The four older children of our family are involved with a Youth Leadership Program : a public speaking club for children that Will and I co-lead. While Nathanael and Joanna were busy preparing their icebreaker speeches, Emily was listening intently. After all, what's so hard about talking about yourself? So, she proceeded to start her own speech. It went something like this.
Hi, I am four years old. My name is Emily Webber Joy. (Why she always gives her middle name after her last name is still a mystery to me..) And I like a lot of things.
I really like sharing, and I don't like people who do not share. (Wow, this must have really made an impression on her!)My favorite class is art, and my favorite food is macaroni and cheese. And apples. I really like apples. And on and on she went. When someone tried to say something, she would insist, "but I'm not done yet!!" and just keep going.
I think her first audience lost interest because she came in and gave me the entire speech again, adding new details each time. It's amazing that a four year old has so many opinions, likes, dislikes, favorite colors, hobbies and everything.
Fast forward eight years.
At age 12, all of a sudden, it's impossible to come up with something to say outloud in front of a group. Our 12 year old was struggling to even fill three minutes worth of material about himself!! I am assuming that all of this frenetic speech preparation is what brought on Emily's great desire to copy their speeches and make one up for herself.
And he wasn't the only one struggling. All the kids in our youth leadership class are learning the nitty gritty of public speaking. And yet, it's nothing compared to what it would be like if adults were in there.
It seems like the older you are when you start, the harder it is. Maybe we should be like Emily--just go on and on about whatever, pretending we're sitting on our mother's lap and everything we have to say is just the most amazing, funny, and clever thing that's ever been said--and just get over the fear of it.
What's the worst that could happen? That we feel foolish? Oh, that's going to happen anyway. That we get some negative feedback? We could all use a little of that here and there. That we never get any better? That's not going to happen either. As soon as we try, we know the next time will be better. In fact, each time you speak publicly, it gets a little easier and better.
So, what would you say if you had to fill 3-5 minutes about yourself, in the form of a speech?
Would you relax and just let it flow? or would it be hard to figure out what to say?