Number one fear

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“I share the fate of inexperienced speakers. They feel overwhelmed by the grandeur of their topic; neither can they express what they feel”

Pg. 470 WM Trithemius

This quote ties directly into my not-so spectacular presentation on Thursday, as it pertains to all students who have to give speeches. Nothing was more terrifying than giving my speech in STW last year. I will never watch that videotape.

It is not simply giving a speech that is hard. When you speak from your heart or mind, words just flow out, seemingly coming from nowhere. However, speaking to your boyfriend or confronting your mother about where you want to go to college or that you want to change your major is different than giving a speech on an assigned topic.

The task ahead of you is daunting because of the plethora of information at your fingertips; you have to decide what is important. But, what if it is all important? What about the time limit? You sit down and you rehearse in your mind how everything is going to be. And the speech never turns out as planned. You stumble, stutter, and forget information. You feel overwhelmed, pressured to fit decades upon decades of information into a 10-15 minute presentation. Your grade is riding on the presentation and that pressure makes you tighten up. (I choked on Thursday and I know it). From your brain to the audience, something happens. There is a line from last year’s musical, Weird Romance, which I think applies here:

“ but something jams the port through which the information feeds.” - ‘A Man’

That is because we are putting ourselves out on the line. It is just you and the information up there in front of the class. Our fear of failing causes us to fail (take it from someone who is taking their driver’s test for the 7th time). I am an actress and have no problem getting up in front of strangers and performing. But acting is a mask; I can hide behind it. Public speaking unnerves me because it is just me out there. There’s no Sister Mary Ignatius or Sleeping Beauty to hide behind.  Public speaking beats out death, spiders, and flying as the number one fear. No one is completely self-assured. 

Books have no time limit. They can be as long as you like, and can include as much or as little information as you want. And, unless you are studying for your PhD, chances are someone will not be grading your book. Plus, as I said in a previous blog, you can hide behind written words.

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4 Comments

Dani, next time, do you think it would help if we put all the desks in a ring and you presented sitting down, just as we did pretty much every week last semester in Writing about Literature?

maybe...it defnately took the pressure off and gave us a much intimate feel. But maybe I'm the only one in the class that doesn't feel comfortable. Then again, I'm going to be a lawyer, so I have to get over it sometime.

Kayla Sawyer said:

That's how I thought it was going to be -- more of a discussion, less like three very separate, formal presentations.

writing about lit was one of my favorite classes I have taken here because of that discussion atmosphere. But I wouldn't want to change the class format because of me. Everyone else seemed to be comfortable, so I guess I'll have to learn to suck it up.

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