Remembering My First Time…Speaking
I remember looking out at the audience. There were 1000 pairs of eyes in front of me. They were all looking in my direction and I couldn’t tell if they were smiling, expecting me to be amazing, expecting me to fail or what was going on in their brains.
All I knew was there was a lump in my throat, I couldn’t feel my feet and every cell in my body was shaking.
I was eight years old and because my dad was the pastor of the church, I was chosen to be one of the kid speakers for children’s day. I didn’t have to remember anything. All I needed to do was read from the papers right in front of me and every so often, I should look up to make sure the people were still there…or was it to let them know I knew they were still there?? Well, something like that.
About 10 minutes later, it was done. I got through it. And…I was…ALIVE! Yes, I lived. I didn’t die. I didn’t slip and fall. I didn’t lose my balance. Nothing bad happened. All the grown-ups said I did a great job and my friends, well, they joked but I could tell they admired me.
I made it through. I succeeded. There was only ONE reason for the success that day. I ACTED! I did it! If I had declined the opportunity, I would have had the fears. It’s one thing to have fear. But it’s another thing to be afraid without ever experiencing.
It’s like going to an amusement park. You look up to see a roller coaster climbing 100 feet in the air then come hurtling back down towards a crazy loop. It looks frightening standing on the ground. FEAR! But then, you get in line and wait for the ride. As you get closer, your anxiety begins to build. Then right when it’s your turn, your friends say, “Hey, let’s ride in the FRONT!” FEAR
Every hair on your body SCREAMS, “Are you INSANE?” FEAR
But, you’re there so you go. You ride the coaster and you scream until your throat is dry. You exit the coaster with your hair blown back and your eyes permanently frozen in a look of surprise.
Your friend asks, “Hey, do you want to go again?”
You still feel a bit anxious but now, you’ve experienced the ride. You know what to expect. The bottom line…you DID it!
You go on the ride again. The butterflies are still there but now, you go with a little more courage, knowing you can make it.
And so it is with speaking. The only way to solve the “problem” is to do it.
Once you do it, you need to evaluate and figure out what worked well.
One way to do this is by joining a Toastmasters group. This way, you can receive feedback. Some people join a group like this and sit back. But, dive in. Go ahead. Speak at your first meeting. You don’t have to jump into the deep end of the pool with a prepared speech. But, hop into the shallow end. Get used to the water temperature and then wade out further.
Becoming a good public speaker doesn’t happen by reading a set of instructions. It happens by doing it, evaluating, adjusting, then doing it again.
Keep repeating the cycle. Will the nerves, butterflies, anxiety ever totally disappear? I don’t know. Mine haven’t yet. But now, I know what to do with them.
Act! Get around others who are on the journey and continue to push forward!
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About The Author
My name is Robert Kennedy III. I’m a professional speaker and author. I speak and write mainly about leadership and communication. Connect with me onTwitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook or on my website, RobertKennedy3.com