don't forget your public

i will always remember my first forays into public speaking. when i was an undergrad, i took a speech class that was required for my major-of-the-month (elementary ed.). i would get up to the podium and completely zone out into a different world. i know i delivered my speech, but i couldn't remember anything from the time i stood up to the time i sat down. apparently, i was not too effective either, as reflected by my grade in the class.

fast forward to about 5 years later. my pastor asked me to write a testimony to read in front of our small congregation. as i read off my paper, i couldn't get a breath. i was gasping between words. my voice was quivering. somehow, i survived and ran off the stage, mortified.

then there was the time, as a graduate student, that my statistics professor asked me to speak in front of the class. it was the largest group i had spoken for yet - about 75 people. i started to freak out, but was able to keep my composure for the most part. i heard my voice quiver, but no breathing problems this time.

for the last 4 years, i have been regularly speaking in public. it has gotten easier, but i still get stage fright. yesterday, i had to speak in front of a bunch of colleagues. i was fine after the first 2 minutes. i don't know what has changed, except that i have done it so much. i don't picture the audience in their underwear. i don't pretend that i am catherine zeta-jones. i guess i have just been desensitized.

in this particular area, as the cigarette commercial used to say, i've come a long way, baby.

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