I was asked to speak in church this past Sunday. It was an experience that I am always grateful for, but that does not change the fact that public speaking makes me very nervous.
My first experience speaking in front of a crowd that I can remember was waaaaay back in 4th grade. I had a speaking part in a school play (and by speaking part I mean I had one, 4-word line) and I thought my heart was going to jump into my throat. When it came time to recite my line, I was so nervous that only a soft, shaky whisper emerged. The strange thing is that when I got off that stage, I was so enamored by the feeling of being on stage that I wanted more opportunities to conquer my fear. Consequently, I pursued many years of dance, drama and debate in order to improve my comfort level in front of a crowd.
I am happy to report that I have come a long way since those elementary school days. I am certainly not a professional when it comes to public speaking but I have learned to speak slowly, clearly and disguise the nervous shake in my voice. There is still one aspect that I cannot seem to control - my knees. When I open my mouth to speak, my knees start trembling.
So what's a girl to do?
Well, this girl always wears long skirts and prays that she will be standing behind a stand when she speaks.
Despite my shaky knees, I do enjoy the opportunity to improve my skills and abilities. Perhaps one day I shall have these knees conquered.
For those of you who find they have particular trouble with public speaking, I suggest you avoid listening to pieces of advice like "just picture your audience in their underwear" because those things do not work. Who wants that image in their mind anyhow? I will suggest checking out this list of tips for public speaking that was put together by Toastmasters International. It has been a great help for me to review this list when I am preparing for public speaking so that I know the important things to remember.
Believe it or not, public speaking can be a fun, enjoyable experience. Now if only I could communicate that to my nerves that send my knees into convulsions.