The Day I Found My Voice. The Public Speaking Essay Example
It is the big day, my first big speech in my high school speech class is today. In the previous three years of high school, I had only done a few speeches, all based on content. Now, I have been in speech for two weeks, but we have only done short and quick speaking tasks, such as impromptus or group building activities. These speeches were all completion grades for standing up in front of the class and presenting. That is not the case today. The first big speech of the year is just a few minutes away and I am nervous. Today's speech will be for a grade, one hundred points to be exact. Plus, Mrs. Osborn, my teacher, and with my peers will be giving comments back on what I did wrong and what can be improved.
As I walk into the classroom, the room seems to be a little off, but I think it is just my nerves. The book posters of The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Of Mice and Men are still in their normal spots around the wall. The single person desks are still in columns with the smart board at the front of the room. I sit down in my desk, about four rows back, quickly fidgeting my legs on the under tray of my desk. I am the second person to go today, so I have a little time to think about my speech. I go over all the main topics and the time frames for the videos I am going to show.
As Mariah, the first speaker gives her speech on her to build a homemade snow globe, my nervousness gets worse. What if I mess up or if nobody likes my speech or if I am a bad public speaker. Thoughts on thoughts are running through my head, some of them good and most of them bad. Suddenly, cutting through my thoughts, I hear, "Ryan are you ready to go?"
I look up and see Ian beside me, finally realizing Mariah has just finished her speech and responses from the class. "I think so," I say to Ian. As I walk up to the front of the class, the fifteen people in the class seem like fifty. I try to slow my breathing, but it is not working. I look over all the faces in the class, some looking as nervous as me and others who do not seem to have a care in the world.
"Ryan, the speech needs to be between three to five minutes and afterward we will talk about what you did well and what needs to be worked on," Says Mrs. Osborn with a smile on her face.
"Okay and I think I am ready to go," I tell Mrs. Osborn. I turn to look at the crowd and hear the timer start with a loud click. Instinctively I look at the clock on the wall to my left to time myself and then I launch into my intro.
The first speech must be an instructive speech, meaning the goal is to teach someone how to do a task. My speech is about the four competitive swim strokes, as I am a swimmer. The speech goes on and I think I am doing well, integrating some of the small speech skills, like making eye contact or showing the strokes in an easy way to follow. I am on the final stroke, butterfly, with only a few small mistakes like miss clicking the video times or stumbling on words. I end with a small sentence summarizing the main idea, trying to finish with a lasting impact.
As soon as I finish I look over to the clock and see that I have gone four and a half minutes, perfectly within the needed time frame for the speech. I take a deep breath, releasing pent up nervousness from worry of making time or going over. But, I know this is just the first part, with the criticism and thoughts up next. I turn my focus back onto my teacher and my class.
Mrs. Osborn starts off first, "Ryan I thought your first speech went well, containing good main points and making it within the time frame, with an official time of four minutes and twenty-five seconds. You projected your voice well and showed a mastery of your topic, which means a better ability to teach the audience. Before I tell you what you did wrong, can you name any things you messed up on?"
"I probably talked a little fast to start off, as I was extremely nervous. I know I stuttered on a couple words and messed up the video starting times. I think I probably lack some confidence as well." I reply.
"Yes, all of those things were mistakes but small ones. You need to work on relaxing, which will help the speed of the speech. The biggest thing I noticed was how serious you were during the speech. I have known you for most of your life and know how you are when you are working on something. You put your whole mind to it, trying your hardest and pushing past anything that is in your way. This was evident during the speech. You had all the needed facts before the speech in your head, and then you started with the determination of doing your best. A speaker needs to be relaxed and having some fun when they are speaking, or the speech will not come off as well. For the future, make sure you go up there with some confidence to be more open and less serious when presenting."
"Thank you for letting me know Mrs. Osborn, I will work on these points for my future speeches this year, and for whenever I need to speak publicly."
Mrs. Osborn replies, "You are welcome, and I know you will work on them to the best of your ability. Now, I open the discussion up to the class, what all did you notice throughout the speech?"
My classmate Presley, who is also a good speaker and whose criticism I can trust says, "I think he stands too still while speaking, he needs to move around some more to help movement feel more natural."
Kelsie, a longtime friend of mine and another respected classmate, adds, "I think his speech was great, but just like the rest of us, he could use some more confidence up there speaking."
Mrs. Osborn, standing up from her desk to come stand beside me, comments, "Both of those ideas are good ones and will be important in the future when any one of you goes to do public speaking, or just in conversations in general."
"Thank you," I reply. "I will definitely use these points later in my speeches."
I go back to my seat and release a sigh of release that I had been holding. I realize how bad I had been sweating just standing up in front of the class, a class of peers I have known my entire life. Speech is going to take time this year, planning each speech and focusing on places that could be improved. Hopefully by the end of the semester, I will be a lot more confident and readier to speak in front of people when the time arises in the future. Thinking on the speech I just did, I really enjoyed giving the speech and I am already thinking how I can work on my next speech. The next speech will be informative, and I am going to practice more to make this next speech even better, including all the points of weakness that my peers and teacher mentioned.
Skipping forward a few months, I have become an improved speaker, speaking in front of the whole high school and middle school during our Veterans Day service. In my speech class, I am at the top of the class, being voted best speaker by my classmates in the Osborn Awards. Looking back on that first big speech, I think it really helped me find my speaking voice, confidence, and identity. Before, I felt like I was just talking and was so nervous that I could not stop moving. But, now I feel great before speeches, knowing that I will do well. Speech class has also helped me in just normal conversations with new people, as I do not feel as shy or lacking the confidence to talk. I am glad that I decide to take speech class, as it has been a great time and I feel better prepared for my future. Using these speech skills will help me with my valedictorian speech, college interviews, and when looking for a job.
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