by syaffolee

Front and Center

Show and tell was probably the first exposure many people had to public speaking. It was probably easy and fun, too, for many of these people. You got to talk about the thing you were most interested in be it a teddy bear or an action figure and you were always sure that someone would be interested in what you said (or at least what you’re showing). I, however, found the entire ordeal boring, frustrating, and intimidating. I was still proud that I could count to a hundred in English or read the days of the week or write the first letter in my name. Who cares about show and tell? I began bringing in the same thing week after week and the teacher began to worry that something was wrong with me.

Teachers always find something wrong whenever I’m forced to stand up in front of a group of people. It’s not that I’m afraid of the audience, I’m afraid of the teacher because they’re usually the only one paying attention. Of course, they find it their job to criticize me in front of the class after I give my spiel to make an example of me. “Speak up!” “Don’t talk to the paper, talk to the audience!” “You lecture like a professor!” Ouch.

I’m doing a little bit better now. No one tells me to speak louder or to get my face out of the papers (powerpoint helps, obviously, as well as the laser pointer which makes me feel like I’m aiming a saber at the audience). I’m not sure if I still lecture like a professor although I definitely don’t stutter. I used to practice speaking to an empty room every time I had to do a presentation. I would make note cards. I would attempt to memorize. I don’t do that anymore. If I’m reasonably comfortable with the material, it’s a good bet that once I start talking, I won’t stop too soon even if I’m winging it.

But still.

Public speaking courses should become required.

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