Today’s Daily Prompt asks “Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?”
I get anxious when I speak in public, but that begins to fade fairly quickly, especially if I’ve had some consistent practice. And therein lies the key to it all. It may be cliché, but practice does make perfect. And I have Hugh Ringer to thank for that.
The gentlemen of whom I speak was my high school’s speech team coach (we didn’t have debate as he was also our high school’s athletic director) for several decades. And he fit the bill, a dapper dresser with a stentorian voice and dynamic manner, he was almost the prototypical protagonist in 50’s musical. He would see to it that a system was in place. You were encouraged to join in 7th or 8th and stay until 12th grade, and while you did, you practiced twice a week from December until March or early April. This was my pattern; I started in 7th and stayed on until I was a senior (12th grade). In short, I had a lot of practice during my formative years.
Another way that being a member of the speech team helped was our exposure to those who were closer to what we call the “1%” today. We were a group of small town kids of whom little was expected, and yet we won numerous tournaments that we entered and collected individual trophies by the armful year in and year out. And we won by beating kids from other schools who being groomed to apply to – and be accepted to – Ivy League schools while most of us were encouraged only to shoot for a State of Pennsylvania-sponsored school. We learned to see past that sort of class difference and not let it intimidate us.
So, yeah, I still get a little nervous, but after a while, I’ll do just fine. One of my grad school professors even told me after a presentation that I “had a great future as a televangelist.”, so I thin I’ll be juuuust fine with the Speechifyin’ , thank you. And thanks, Hugh!