What moves you? An inspirational quote, an unexpected victory, a heartwarming story?
Recently I had the pleasure of judging a high school oratorical contest. Despite their nervousness, each contestant took the assigned topic, wrapped themselves around it and presented it to the audience like a gift. I was instantly moved. To put aside fear and “do it anyway” is the most inspiring of all human traits. These courageous young people chose to be tangible by getting up in front of an audience, saying their peace, and letting the chips fall where they may. Did I mention there were only three contestants? Hhmm….
Jumping out of a plane at that age would have been easier for me, and I was happy to be passed over by the teacher when I raised my hand in class. As an adult, early in my professional career, speaking in public always sent my body into spasms. I wanted to hide out and make a difference behind the scenes. As we all well know, when speaking in public, there is nowhere to hide and people can see and feel you for who and what you are. Terror!! However, we have a choice to make here. We can choose to hide out where people never truly get to know us, or we can share ourselves with the world by engaging people in person.
As for speaking in public, it doesn’t matter whether your audience believes WHAT you are saying; what matters is that they believe in YOU. When the contest was over, the participants were showered with accolades and helpful feedback and each of them left the event walking a bit taller and notably more confident. Social media makes speaking out easy, and has taken the fear factor out of doing so by creating an intangible forum through which we can speak to the public from behind the scenes. When we default to this method of communication too frequently, we can lose touch with our humanness.
There are 10 muscle groups in the human face – all of which work to intensify the eyes, form the arch of a brow, create wrinkles in the temple and form a smile. People can be and are moved by your ability to skillfully engage them through public speech, and it boosts your confidence as a communicator. As a result, you can fly above insurmountable obstacles, crush fear and explore the landscape of your infinite potential. Faced with the option to choose the less frightening 500 word essay, I was totally impressed by the courage and initiative these young people took to participate in an oratorical contest.
Today, in my new profession as a teacher, I speak in public daily.