I gave the coolest speech ever yesterday. It was for a public speaking course I’m taking as required for my degree in Health Management. It sounds like I’m fluffing my own feathers right? I AM.
I was scared! I speak in front of people all the time at work. I give lab safety presentations, HIPAA training talks and also orient staff when they begin working in our building. I frequently have to present new policies to faculty and staff at meetings and conferences. Why was I so nervous about a speech for a college course?!
This was personal. The speech was a motivational narrative format speech and I was giving it to work-mates. At work I’m TOUGH. I’m STRONG. My speech was going to reveal vulnerabilities. It was personal and it was about me. I don’t do that.
I tried to avoid it. I tried to set it up with family. That was a fail. I ran out of time as the deadline loomed.
I ended up bumping up to the day of the speech and dragging people out of the lab “Come to the conference room and listen to me talk or I’ll fail my class!” “Come to the conference room or you’re fired!” “Gimme 10 minutes!”
Then it was time. I was up in front of a video camera and five people were staring at me. My words? “STOP STARING AT ME”
Yep, that’s how I started.
Not so good.
There were a few re-dos.
I did my intro FIVE TIMES to shaking heads and disappointed faces. “What are we here for?!”
Finally I ditched my outline and started talking. Instead of following a script…I told my story.
I started a bit quietly and then got louder. The room disappeared and so did the people. I told my story because I wanted to. I became proud of it. I recognized it. I recognized myself and my strength and I got louder.
What did I talk about to that group that I was so afraid of?
The beginning, the middle and the now. I told my workmates about my initial diagnosis of epilepsy and my want to give up. My fall into disarray. I talked about my stroke and the weakness on my right side. I talked about thinking I was going to die and how that sparked my want to live. I talked about how wanting to live made me start running.
Running gave me a sense of control while my life was out of control. It gave me freedom and strength and a new name. My voice got very loud when I said “I became Sarah the Runner instead of Sarah the Epileptic”
The room came back into view as I closed the speech telling the folks in the room to reach for their goals and that they don’t know what they are capable of unless they try. I felt stronger when I heard them clapping, just as I did the first time I ran in a race.
I’m glad I’m taking this class now; it made me step outside my comfort zone, just as running did. It made me feel strong when I was feeling weak.
So go! Do something you feel uncomfortable doing and feel that strength when you finish at just how capable you are.