Most people recognize the quote by Jerry Seinfeld in reference to fear of public speaking and death. It goes something along the lines of with public speaking being fear #1 and death fear #2, logic supposes that at a funeral one would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. I certainly know people who can relate to that conclusion, but I am not one of those people.
The development of any kind of public speaking fear was rapidly obliterated during my childhood thanks to a wonderful mother who encouraged a very active participation in any and everything 4-H. Now I’m not being facetious with the comment about my wonderful mother. 4-H is and was a great experience, but it’s also a lot of work and responsibility of which an undeniable amount falls to the individual with a driver’s license in order to attend various events and gather supplies for fair projects. From demonstrations, to public speaking contests, to face-to-face judging, talking in front of people was unavoidable.
Fast forward to high school where some of my many extra-curriculars included forensics and debate where you are, in essence, scored on your ability to public speak. Then of course there were the more “fun” public speaking activities like spring play and fall musical. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush that comes from performing for a live audience just like there is nothing quite like some of the ridiculous costumes I found myself in. I guess even after high school and college I still continued to public speak in one form or another as Ms. Wheelchair WI 2014 and then Ms. Wheelchair America 2015. Long story short, I talk… a lot… and sometimes people other than my mother find themselves in a situation where it’s only polite to listen.
I don’t “perform” like I used to (at least not in a structured sense…) but I do still find myself with the occasional public speaking gig. Normally it isn’t anything too intense – talking to a nursing class about my experiences in healthcare, trying to challenge perceptions during diversity week at a college campus, sharing my faith journey as it progressed before, during, and after my injury – you know, that kind of stuff. I guess public speaking has become something I (generally) enjoy. It’s exciting to be able to share experiences and knowledge, I mean, that’s basically the reason I decided to blog. The ability to educate, to start conversations, to catalyze thinking, to spread ideas – it’s an often unrealized power we all have so no, I don’t fear public speaking.