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Public Speaking

May 22, 2011

I don’t quite understand why I have such a hard time speaking in front of people when I have no problem singing.  I guess it’s the fact that I’m presenting my own thoughts?  I would rather sing for an hour than give a 5 minute talk.

As a child, I absolutely dreaded giving talks in Primary (Sunday School for the kids).  I felt like an idiot.

Having to give speeches in school was my worst nightmare.

Somehow I managed not to give any youth talks in Sacrament meeting until I was suddenly asked to speak at a stake activity in the gym.  I can’t remember what the topic was, but I was terrified and begged them to let me sing instead.  They felt they really needed to hear me speak.  I was almost at the point of full-fledged hyperventilation as my mom drove me there.  She rubbed my back and told me it was going to be OK.  I didn’t believe that and prayed, “I don’t think I can do this!  I’ll do it just this once and then I’m never doing it again!  I’m a singer.  That’s what I do.  Isn’t that good enough?”

Heavenly Father’s response was, “This is for your good.  I’m going to make you a great teacher someday.”  I thought, “No!  I never want to speak in front of anyone again!  How is that supposed to comfort me?”

My first talk as an adult, I seriously felt like I was on the verge of having a cardiac arrest and I was very ill for hours beforehand.  I couldn’t eat for two days before and I even shook while writing the talk. 

The next time, I felt a little less like I might die and couldn’t eat for one day before.

The next time was about the same, but I managed to look up from what I wrote for the first time.  Strangely, people never thought I looked nervous.

This morning I gave another talk and I was thrilled to have an appetite all day yesterday and even talked myself into drinking a beverage.  Unfortunately I still got sick, but it’s progress.

It went pretty well and I had the added challenge of turning my 12-13 minute talk into less than 10 minutes.  Some other talks went a bit long.

What a relief!  I don’t know if I’ll ever completely conquer my fear of public speaking, but I guess I’ll settle for improvement. 

What is it that terrifies people so much when it comes to public speaking?  How do you feel about it?

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