My Public Speaking Journey: How it all Began
When I first began public speaking, I never thought that I would continue in it for as long as I have, nor did I hope that I would. However, this coming year marks my ninth as a public speaker, and so I suppose that you could say that I have stuck with it. For being a mere seventeen years of age, eight years of public speaking experience is rather a lot. As I near my ninth year, I cannot help but reflect back on my first experiences as a public speaker.
If my memory serves me correctly, I was first introduced to the art of public speaking at the age of nine at a CFC conference in Austin. At the time I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My parents basically dropped me off with an army of teenagers clad in suits, and then they were gone. I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen, and the whole experience was rather frightening.
Eventually, the suit clad teens split us “students” up, and I was sent away with a group of other kids that were roughly the same age as me. We went to a small Sunday school classroom, and a girl who I remember nothing of, except that she was pretty, told us she was our instructor and then led us in various games and activities. Being as introverted as I was, I avoided the games as much as possible, and I once snuck away from my class and sat alone in the general assembly room. Of course, one of the instructors found me, but the guy that discovered miserable, lonely me wasn’t in charge of my age group, and so I guess that is why he didn’t immediately send me back to where I was supposed to be. Regardless, he sat with me and encouraged me to play along. Then he gave me sour gummy worms. Other than what is coming next, the gummy worms were the most memorable part of my time there.
So, encouraged and on a sugar high, which probably clouded my good judgement, I went back to my class. When I arrived back at the classroom, the instructor was explaining to the other kids that each of us would have to present a speech, our favorite Bible verse, for the class. I was terrified.
Kid after kid walked up to the stage, recited his or her favorite Bible verse, and then sat down. My turn inevitably came. I rose, trying not to trip or cry or run away, and stood in front of the class of maybe ten other children. I looked the classroom over and stared off into space awkwardly for a moment. Then I rattled off the fastest few words that I have ever spoken. I think that my speech that day should have won me the world record for reciting John 3:16 that fastest. Gosh, I couldn’t even understand myself!
After reciting my verse, my vision became splotchy. Everything was colored a yellow hue. My heart was pounding so loudly that I couldn’t hear the other kids clapping. Even my knees were unsteady, I could barely stand. Then I slowly tried to make my way back to my seat. It was hard, not being able to see and barely being able to stand, but I eventually made it.
That was my first speech. I almost gave up, I almost passed out, and I missed the applause for the pounding of my heart, but I gave the speech. I did it.
I suppose that you could say that I have come a long way, and I would agree. Throughout the course of my communications studies, I have learned all sorts of things and have had many remarkable experiences. However, none of them have been quite as exciting as my first speech.