Friday, January 27, 2012

Thoughts on Public Speaking

I was recently talking with someone and the conversation turned to public speaking. The entity of this particular conversation isn’t so important, so much as it allows me to launch into my real purpose for blogging today.

Public speaking is a widely feared activity. There are many would rather do just about anything to get out of standing in front of a crowd of people, be they familiar or strangers, and speak. It is both a persistent and staggeringly paralyzing fear.

I’m sure there is some psychology-based reason for this fear, but quite frankly I am not hosting a lecture on psychology here and so I’ll spare you that conversation.

Moving right along, I don’t fall into the category of people that fear speaking in public. While I do become obscenely terrified in the presence of spiders, I don’t mind getting up in front of a crowd of people. Give me a room full of people as opposed to one itty-bitty spider any day.

Regardless of any of the above ponderings, my true point in writing this evening is that the conversation I originally mentioned has lead to my recalling an essay that I wrote, and later spoke about, my senior year of high school. The essay was written as a creative piece for my Advanced Placement English class, presenting it happened purely by chance.

We were scheduled to have a Senior Academic Awards night, and at the last minute, quite literally a couple of day’s prior, they decided that they wanted to have a student speaker at the event. Naturally they turned to the AP English class. When they pitched the opportunity no one immediately jumped at the chance, which now that I think about it is a bit strange, even stranger though was that I found myself raising my hand and volunteering to speak at the event in a room full of fellow seniors, their parents, and several staff members.

At any rate, this is the piece that I ended up sharing with those at the event:

The following is based on this prompt: What is your favorite word and why?

“Spoken Definition”

Words are exceptionally powerful. While we have all heard some variation of the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, I can guarantee that no matter how many times you repeat it, the saying will never come any closer to the truth. In fact, the things that we say are often more powerful and, depending on the situation, have the capability to do more damage or good than our actions. This is why when speaking we must choose our words carefully; it is also one of the reasons why choice is my favorite word.

Choice is important to me because the ability to choose allows me to control certain aspects of my life, whether it is as simple as what shirt I wear in the morning or something larger, such as my future career. After all, it is the choices that we make that not only determine where we end up, but more importantly define who we are. I rely heavily on my ability to make my own choices in order to establish who I am and to allow myself the opportunity to become the person that I want to be.

The importance of choice also comes into play when I am speaking with other people or trying to express myself in some way. If my words are ill chosen, then the message I am trying to convey is more susceptible to being misconstrued or lost completely. Choice becomes increasingly important when people’s ability to understand where I am coming from and what I am talking about is left hanging in the balance.

Choice is my favorite word because it embodies the idea that I am in control of the direction of my life it is a powerful word that, to me, signifies that my choices define who I am, despite the opinions of others. In another respect, words are powerful and they should be chosen carefully. Word choice, and good choices in general, become increasingly important when I am attempting to convey a particular message. Ultimately, choice is my favorite word, because the choice’s that I make are the largest reflection of who I am, and who I one day wish to become.

What about you? How do you feel about public speaking? Is there a particular word that resonates with you?


If you have, by chance, made it this far, I’d like to let you know that this year’s blogging goal is to blog once a month. I fully intend to hold up to this goal better than I did last years. Please feel free to keep me accountable.