My Mother Taught Me About Public Speaking When I was 12

When I was roughly 12 years old and in grade 7 (elementary school) our teacher had one student give a speech on any subject matter they desired. The speech was a part of a competition where the other students in the class would rate the person’s speech and if they had the highest number at the end of the month, they would carry on to the next round.

I remember how much trouble I had speaking in public at a young age. My voice would get incredibly raspy and I could barely talk. Anytime I thought that a soccer coach, teacher, or any one else could possibly at some point call on me to answer a question or speak in front of a group of people I would shrug my shoulders, and curl into as much of a ball as possible. I absolutely despised speaking in front of any group of people, even a group of family members or friends.

I was talking to my mother from what I recall about not wanting to do the speech, I don’t think that we ever discussed exactly why but she helped me come up with an idea that might work well for me. I was obsessed with animals at that point in my life, from wolves to bears and killer whales to cougars, I loved animals. We wrote out a speech for me to give my class about the life of a Wolf Pack. Only, I would ask the class to close their eyes during the speech so that they could envision \ imagine themselves in a wolf pack running through the woods. I described the pack and our actions in detail and ended up winning the speech contest that week.

Fast forward 20 years, while I’m sitting with one of my mentors who was explaining to me that its perfectly fine to be an introverted extrovert, which is what I am. I am someone who doesnt necessarily act as an extrovert in my day to day life, but when it comes to subject matters that I now know I am passionate about and an expert in, I love to debate, discuss and talk strategy. I also have no problem speaking about subjects I am passionate about in front of large groups of people.

I remember that speech in grade 7. I was comfortable because my classmates weren’t looking at me and I could come out of my shell and speak about something I was passionate about without the fear of them rolling their eyes. I won that speech competition because I was so passionate about what I was talking about, I moved them and had them thinking about wolf packs in ways that they had never thought about them before, if at all.

I recently recorded an episode of the We Are Better Men Podcast speaking about this same topic.