My Experience with Public Speaking

It is certainly understandable how some people feel a certain amount of fear or apprehension when approaching public speaking. I do believe that everyone feels some of this anxiety, but, like everything,I have found it to be something which gets better overtime.

The first experience I had with public speaking/speech making was when I ran for vice president of my school in fourth grade. This required a speech given to the student body and teachers. Overall, it was a positive first experience which I again repeated the following year when I ran for president. Since then, I have had a pretty substantial amount of experience on stage as an actor in various plays. Although performing is not really “public speaking” it still produced the same butterflies that precede public speaking. Additionally, as a jazz trumpet player, I would often take several solos during a performance which could be quite nerve wracking as well. This is also not public speaking, but I think the attention being placed so squarely on you is what makes something like public speaking or performance so scary.

One of the best things anyone has ever told me about speaking publicly is that the scariest part is the second before you go on. If you can get past that moment, all the rest is easy. This idea helps you get on the stage, and thinking about it while there helps to keep you going; knowing that the worst is already over makes everything else seem easier.


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  1. Hi, Caitlin! I completely agree with you that the most stressful part is the moment before public speaking, when the person before you is finishing up and you’re thinking about everything you’re going to say. Like for a play, we’ll be practicing a lot and working on our scripts (more than our presentations have been scripted and, unlike a play, we can revise and have more control over our scripts). We’ve never done anything like this conference, and I think that can make us especially nervous– but also excited! We’re not presenting a character or trying to make people vote for us, or performing a specific piece of music– we’re just explaining what work we’ve done. (ALSO, if it helps, we’ll have our honors designations by then, and I know at least for me, that’ll help my confidence to think that “hey, this you XY honors. This was productive and important work and already got some recognition.”) I’m also a bit less nervous because we’re in this together, and over this year (and especially during the exam), we’ve grown into a cute little English nerd family– and I love that. We can do this!

  2. Hi Cait! The entire time I was reading your post, I could not stop thinking that you probably have the most experience on stage so you would be more comfortable with public speaking than many of us. But as you pointed out, performance and public speaking are a little different. I agree with you that the whole nervous feeling thing is typically from being in the main spotlight, with everyone focused on you. I tend to look for familiar faces in the crowd, which usually reassures me that everything will be fine. So, don’t freak out if I look over to you for a confidence boost 😀

    • Jason Tougaw on May 16, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    I’ll always remember your story about having to spit on your co-start on stage. If you can pull that off…

    1. True. Most things are a cake walk compared to something I still periodically apologize for six months later.

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