Public speaking

The latest Daily Prompt was about public speaking.

Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?

When I was young I was very shy and very sensitive to any kind of criticism.

I don’t need to tell you how I felt about public speaking!

My first venture into it was thrust upon me without preparation and I made a mess of it and was teased by children I did not know on the way home from school.

The occasion was the retirement of the headmistress of the junior school I attended.  In morning assembly she was presented with a present – a set of oil paints.  What had not been anticipated was that she also had a present for the school – a painting.

I was sitting on the floor at the end of a line within reach of my form teacher, who was sitting on a chair.  She poked me with her foot and said, “Get up and thank Mrs. C. on behalf of the school”.

No point refusing, but I didn’t manage all the necessary words!

Later I was put in for an examination of the English Speaking Board, where I had to read out loud.  (That was the easy part, I had spent hours in front of the class at junior school reading, while the form teacher attended to a long line of pupils giving individual attention where required.)  I also had to speak for a few minutes on a topic of my choice.  I chose cacti and succulents as I had a small collection of them and had read up the subject and could find things to say.  The exam was an open level and entrants passed at a grade.  The following year I was put in for the next grade and was very reluctant.  So much so, that I did not prepare my speech and failed the exam.

During my career I had to speak in front of small numbers of people.  I once went outside my comfort zone and “lectured” on a one day course after I discovered that there was a need for training in the department where I worked.  I shared the day with a colleague.  I managed the speaking, but I panicked in the question and answer session.

However, years on I have realised that no-one really cares about how I perform and the other Sunday I stood in front of the microphone in church and made an announcement without notes!  My instructions were, “Keep it short and to the point!”  I think I managed.  I may have forgotten to include the venue, but I had posters as back-up.

So my advice to any reluctant public-speaker is prepare, pronounce and persevere!

5 thoughts on “Public speaking

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  3. I liked public speaking as a child but never a s a teenager or adult. My brother went through an agoraphobic period and now lectures worldwide on computer theory. He probably finds it a good thing most people are too bored to care too much about higher level mathematics 🙂

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