"According to most studies, people's Number One Fear is Public Speaking.
Number Two Fear is death. Death is Number Two!!!
Now, this means, to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy!!"
- Jerry Seinfeld monologue, episode 61 of Seinfeld.
This is me... total fear at the thought of public speaking.
I've got two kids.. one looks like me more and the other behaves like me more (i really don't know who is more cursed)... so it did come as a bit of a surprise to me when skye (the one who behaves like me) continually won (came 1st or 2nd) her school's public speaking contest. each year, she writes and presents her speech first in front of her class, then in front of her school and last year, even went on the the next level competing with many other schools in the region - each time placing first or second.
i distinctly recall sitting in the audience and feeling so scared ... i had a death grip on the cards she no longer needed and i read them over like it was i who had to stand up there, my palms sweaty, my heart racing, my knees weak. she was thoroughly grossed out when my cold clammy hands reached over to comfort her. she really didn't need me there.. she was calm, collected and couldn't wait to go up there to blow everyone away. that she did,... each and every time. i was soooo impressed.
i recently enrolled in a motorcycle instructor training course. yes.. to become an motorcycle instructor. i, along with a few other instructors, will have to teach a class room of people how to ride a motorcycle. this is the beginning of a series of things that i will do to help me conquer this terrible fear. a few weeks ago, our class was asked to learn some lessons that would prepare us to present to a group of students in the spring. i was so nervous about having to stand in front of anyone to practice the lesson presentations. the night before i couldn't sleep, i felt nauseous, and had thought up a gajillion excuses to tell the instructor as to why i did so badly.
see the sad thing is, the material i am supposed to teach is pretty much written out for me. the ideas and lessons are already prepared, my job is to teach it, not to write it. the other thing is that my audience will be filled with willing participants. generally, no one is forced to learn to ride a bike, they do it willingly, clinging to your every word because it is something they want to learn. how hard could that be?? it's not like they would even know if you forgot to say something or explained something incorrectly... AND the course is designed with a lot of safety nets in case you do forget to mention something while presenting the lesson.
that same week skye was given the task of writing a speech for this year. she ran around the house in a panic, not knowing what subject she would write about knowing the deadline was a few short days away. I'm not sure why, but that triggered in me the memory of the panic that had set in for her last year when her speech was assigned and the year before and the year prior to that. from that, i remembered all those times she stood in front of her peers, parents and teachers and just astonished everyone with not only her words, but with her poise and confidence.
the following week, i went to my class ... equipped with the inspiration and motiviation skye unknowingly gave me. i did better job presenting my material with the knowledge that skye effortlessly stands in front of 5-10 times as many people and presents something that she writes herself to an audience, who are the most critical because they are asked to choose the best ones and also forced to listen to speech after speech after speech. remember that?? in grade school, having to listen to speech after speech, and comparing each one to the next so that you could help to vote for the classmate who went to the next level. now, THAT.. must be really hard to do...
my kids are truly amazing (not just saying that because i'm their mother). they give me strength when i'm feeling defeated ... they make me smile when i'm sad ... and inspire me when i'm feeling stuck. they go through life just doing their thing and in the process have taught me more than they'll ever know. thanks guys, you're the best!
skye, by the way, came 2nd this year in her speech presentation. THAT'S SECOND IN HER SCHOOL!! Had her school been more prudent in signing up for the regional speech competition, she would have made it past her school gym again. Congrats babe! you are truly amazing.