Frightfully Speaking

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public speakingAccording to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” -Jerry Seinfeld. Isn’t that crazy? Why are we so afraid of public speaking? What do we think is going to happen? We might pass out? We might throw up? Our pants might fall down?

The first speech I gave in public speaking class was a bit rocky to say the least. None of the above mentioned things occurred but plenty of other things did. I sat in the desk sweating profusely as I waited my turn. I was praying the Degree deodorant would hold out so I wouldn’t be sporting huge pit stains. My palms were all clammy. I sat there with a stupid grin on my face pretending to listen to the other speakers when in reality, all I was doing was running through what I was going to say over and over in my head. I was so engrossed in my own thoughts, I never even heard the professor call my name. He finally asked “Jolene, will you be joining us today?” I hopped up in such a frenzy, I tripped on my skirt and practically landed in a classmate’s lap. The class was hysterical. I tried to laugh it off and said “Sorry Jack, I was just trying to get to know you a little better.”

I got up to the podium and drew a blank. All of those faces were just intently staring at me, expecting something coherent to come out of my mouth. Nothing did. What came out was a bunch of gibberish. It was like I was speaking Klingon or something. The professor told me to take a deep breath and start again. I did but my index cards were all mixed up so now I was totally lost. I panicked and just started making stuff up! I was talking so fast, I ended 3 minutes earlier than I was supposed to. But, 50 “ums” later, I had finally made it through and could go sit back down (and hide my head in shame). I spent hours and hours on this project and then didn’t deliver anything even remotely close to what I had planned.

Of course, the professor was kind enough to video tape the entire thing so the humiliation can reign on and on. We even had to “evaluate” our performance. What could be said about mine? I think WTF? came up a few times in my review.

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