Speech presented at 4.13.2015, MinneapolisToastmasters Club 75
There was a very introverted and shy girl who hesitated to call her teachers and relatives on phone, who didn’t raise her hand to answer teachers’ questions in class and who hated to make any toasts in any gatherings.
Fellow toastmasters, and honored guests. I was this girl. Today, I am gonna tell you a story of how I embrace my fear of public speaking and overcome it.
The first public speech I gave in my life was in the first year of my high school. In a class, we had four groups and each group was asked to give a 3-5 minute speech. No one in my group wanted to give a speech voluntarily. Then we decided to draw lots and I became the unlucky fellow in my group. I still remember how terrible it was. I had an increased heart rate, sweaty palms and shaky hands during the speech. I had no idea what I was talking about during the five minutes. The time seemed frozen and I was completely frozen. After I stuttered out my disappointing speech, I felt so ashamed and judged. I said to myself, I didn’t want to get myself in this kind of trouble anymore!
As I have grown up, I am not particularly shy anymore, but public speaking never seemed to be the sort of thing I would do in my life.
After my graduation, in my age of 23, I was offered an interview to be a lecturer in a college. The problem was, to get the job I had to give a 30-minute lecture, in a classroom, in front of a department dean, five professors and several administrators. My bad memory came out. I was scared of it. But I wanted that job so badly. So, I accepted the interview. Full of nerves and excitement, the big day came. When I stood outside of the classroom, my mouth can’t breath, my brain can’t think, my legs can’t move. I stood there, tried to calm down myself, I said to myself “don’t give up. Don’t give up.” Soon it was my turn. The door swung open, my zombie body walked me through the frozen air. And…I stood at the podium stiffly, at the same time my audiences became blurred dots. I started speaking. My prepared lecture came out! It was not perfect. But the important thing was, I did it. I got through it. I felt so happy and satisfied with myself that day. It was not because I was about to get my first job, it was because I was successful at overcoming my biggest fear, public speaking.
After that, I started my 6-year teaching career and I have continued challenging myself to talk in public situations. Now I am still nervous when I am gonna give a speech, and sometimes I am still subconsciously hesitant to stand up and speak out my thoughts, but I try to enjoy sharing my thoughts and expressing myself to others, enjoy looking at their eyes and smiles during my speech, enjoy letting others look into my head and heart by my speeches.
Now, every time, before I give a public talk, I create a little happy space for inside of my heart. I always imagine how fulfilled and satisfied I would be after my talk, like the time I gave my job talk which opened the door of my professional career. I know public speaking will also open the door to a more powerful life for me.