On Speaking

the-rotarian-coverFrom The Rotarian:

When I was in high school, public speaking was not considered glamorous. It was a required course relished only by people who also approached debate as a sport or who were thrilled by the prospect of student government.

The rest of us dutifully stood at the front of the class, reading rushed words off index cards, trying to picture our classmates in their underwear, but feeling naked instead. When it was over, we were glad we would never have to do that again.

Life, however, has a funny way of making you regret much of what you did – and didn’t do – in high school. Some years later, as a writer, I found myself giving readings and talks. I realized I would actually have to know how to stand up in front of (fully clothed) people and give a speech.

Being a decent writer doesn’t make you a decent speaker, and I quickly discovered that public speaking wasn’t something I could wing. As my high school teacher tried to tell us, it’s a skill that must be acquired.

I started looking around for help and found an organization formed by people in my shoes. We met weekly. Everybody stood up and spoke. We had to give a succession of speeches, which was hard at first. I gave a speech introducing myself, then went on to give others about things like Googling myself and the Dunning-Kruger effect. (Look it up.) People laughed and seemed to enjoy them, so I relaxed and gradually improved.

Read the rest here.

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