My Grade 9 English teacher was a force to be reckoned with. She wasn’t on anyone’s favourite teacher list, she was abrupt in her speaking and she was a harsh marker – rarely did anyone in her classes get an A. But, by the time you left her class, she made sure you wrote well.
We had to write weekly journals about what we did over the weekend and be able to tell a compelling story about our adolescent escapades, even if it was just hanging out at the mall. If she liked what you wrote, she made you read it out loud to the class. We were pretty sure this was for her own sadistic benefit to see awkward teenagers squirm and sputter, but, one week, she chose my entry.
I remember standing up, holding the piece of foolscap. My hands were shaking so bad from nerves, none of the words stayed still. I got through it, but not before my face heated up like a ripened tomato and I was sufficiently embarrassed.
The following week, she picked me again. A usually obedient student, I couldn’t face this again so I said “no.” I swear she smirked when she looked at me over her glasses and said, “stand up, and read your journal.”
As I pushed myself away from my desk, I realized it wasn’t just my hands that were shaking, but my legs, too. I raised the paper and again, the paper vibrated so violently I couldn’t read what was in front of me. Then she said, “put the paper on your desk, and read your journal.” So I did – and with my shaking hands behind my back, I read my piece.
Public speaking is a common fear (called “glossophobia” for all you trivia nerds like me) and reportedly affects 75 per cent of the population, but it’s a useful tool both in most professions and everyday life.
Telecommunicators of Edmonton hosts free Toastmasters Lunch & Learn sessionsevery Wednesday (next session is March 24th), and although it might be a while until you’re likely to have to present to a room full of people, or make a toast at a wedding, you’ll gain valuable skills with the one-hour lunch meeting.