People are often surprised to find out that I’m introverted because I seek opportunities for public speaking. Why would an introvert like public speaking?
There are a few reasons including my appreciation for great oratory; the fact that public speaking is easier for me than chit chat; and it provides a forum to share ideas that I’m enthusiastic about.
The main reason I like public speaking is because I have little fear of it. I know public speaking is one of the top fears for most people. It used to be one of my top fears before I ran for student government in high school.
At my high school, there was a large assembly during which all of the candidates for office were given time slots to campaign for votes. I prepared a heartfelt speech about what I believed student government needed to do and how I would make sure it did it.
As I stood backstage worried about my speech, my apprehension quickly turned into terror. I watched each candidate get on stage and perform skits, sing, dance or simply act silly do make the audience laugh.
This wasn’t an election. It was a talent show!
I realized there was no way this didn’t end in humiliation. If I decided not to go on stage, everyone would know, and I would be harassed endlessly. If I went on stage, I was going to make a fool out of myself, and be harassed endlessly.
Guessing that I was screwed either way, I went on stage.
It was awful. See I made the worst mistake possible in high school. I took something seriously and was earnest. I was mocked, heckled, and a few people even threw things before teachers stopped them.
Thankfully, it was a short speech. But it didn’t end there. I was teased mercilessly on the bus ride home and the following day.
But then two amazing things happened.
First, I had some students who had never talked to me before tell me that they loved my speech and that my speech was the only one that was worth it for them. Second, within a few days, people stopped teasing me, and I had survived.
I was still gun-shy about public speaking for some time, but when I had the opportunity to do give a speech in college, I found that I had little apprehension. The reality is that nothing can happen to me on stage now that would be worse that the embarrassment I experienced in high school. And I survived that.
So now public speaking is enjoyable. I insist on being prepared and knowing my material well. I stress endlessly about making sure the presentation is perfect and that I’m telling a good story. But once I step on stage, I have confidence that nothing can happen to me that will top my high school experience.
After I left the high school’s auditorium, I didn’t want to face the world ever again. Now, I’m incredibly thankful I had that experience.