Part of the typical high school experience is enduring the dreaded speech class, followed by the even more dreaded moment of public speaking, all in the name of education! I suppose there are those few exceptions out there; you know, those people who actually enjoy having an audience and make everyone else look like a buffoon!

But who am I kidding? I know nothing of the ‘typical high school experience’! As a homeschooler, my speech class looked something like this:

1) Read this book on speech.
2) Pick out a topic.
3) Stand by the kitchen counter and give your speech while mom is cooking supper and your siblings snicker behind the corner.

Now, lest you think that because I got off easy in “speech class” means we cut corners everywhere else, I’ll have you know I was taught well by a teacher who minored in English and a principal who majored in discipline. (Pardon the sarcasm. That I came by naturally). This post, however, is not about education, or homeschooling, or my wonderful parents (which I say in all sincerity).

Last week I had the opportunity (the drudgery?) of using something in REAL LIFE that seemed pointless in high school! And no, it wasn’t algebra. (Still haven’t figured out the point of that yet.)

I was the recent guest speaker at a local Kiwanis club meeting. Can you believe that? No, neither can I. Especially since I’m the one that volunteered for it! Now I’m really going crazy!

Proof that I’m not a liar.

Honestly I wasn’t too excited about it, but when I visited with my aunt, the club president, about the possibility of sharing about Life Action Ministries at one of their meetings, I knew it was a challenge I should take on, for the sake of the gospel if not for my own experience. It would be good exposure for the ministry, and you never know where an interaction like this could lead. How am I to know if someone in that room hasn’t heard the gospel, or is in need of personal revival?

To prepare for my first “speaking engagement” (don’t get too excited–it was for all of six people!), I thought back to my Andrew Pudewa days (you homeschoolers will get that reference), and actually wrote out a speech instead of just winging it as I have been doing when meeting with individuals and couples. But considering I was supposed to talk at least 20-30 minutes, I figured I oughta! I personalized a sample power point the ministry had already supplied me with, and planned to show a promo video, graciously sacrificing four whole minutes out of my precious twenty!

The night before “the big day”, I practiced in the mirror and timed myself. I hate looking at myself in the mirror, so every time I did I would go completely blank! Then I began to worry that would happen when I looked someone else in the eye! Oh dear! My first try came out to be not quite nine minutes…add in the four-minute video, and hmm…that wasn’t enough time.

I was beginning to feel like my so-called presentation was going to sound more like the first line of a riddle I learned as a kid, “I come before you to stand behind you to tell you something I know nothing about!”

So I went back and expanded a few points, things that I thought before weren’t necessary or I wouldn’t have time for. I realize there wasn’t a lot required of me to pass speech class in high school, but I thought I could do better than this at compiling a talk longer than ten minutes! Wow, this was hard! I think it was my writing abilities and not speech class that got me through this one.

So after a few more revisions, I recorded myself again, and this time it came out to closer to 15 minutes, even without the video! (I also made sure I talked slower.) So I felt much better about it, and practiced using my power point slides.

Really, I was so surprised in this whole process how not nervous I was! Not to say I wasn’t at all, but I was expecting to be dreading this, terrified, and sick to my stomach before Wednesday at noon rolled around! So I was pleasantly surprised that I could eat my pre-speech meal just fine, talk coherently, stand up front without my hands shaking, and make it out of there without post-traumatic speech disorder!

My Aunt Bette said I did well, but of course she’s so kind she probably would’ve said that even if I had lost my place, broke the projector, and wallowed in a puddle of tears! I did actually lose my spot a few times, but I surprised myself by ad libbing, knowing well enough what I intended to say to keep going and smooth things over…

Hopefully. I didn’t record the real thing, so who knows. At least this time around I wasn’t graded on it!

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