August of 2023: one week left until I started my senior year of high school. I was looking forward to most of my first semester classes. All except one: SPC-112 Public speaking.
Every time I thought of the class, I flashed back to the stress and fear of extemporaneous presentations in health class—desperately clutching my notecards. I considered dropping the class about a million times. I thought, Maybe it would be better in college? Then, if I made a fool of myself, it would be with strangers instead of people I know.
Despite my fears, I didn’t drop the class, and once school began I walked into Mrs.Hintze’s B2 public speaking class. The class started with some basic speaking skills and expectations for the class, but after a few classes we were introducing our peers then introducing ourselves with five items. To my surprise, I wasn’t freezing up, dying of a heart attack, or having a nervous breakdown in front of the entire class. I was still plenty fearful—my hands trembled throughout my entire five items speech, but I was getting through my speeches just fine.
At this point, I still dreaded public speaking. I feared it a little bit less, but I certainly was not in love with it. That all changed when I gave my demonstration speech.
The speech was simple enough. We had to describe how to do some task or purpose. I chose to teach the class how to spin a pencil around one’s thumb.
I prepared pretty extensively for this speech—at least, in comparison to my other speeches. I completed the outline for my speech, I did a run through of my speech once before peer editing, I gave my speech in front of a group of friends, and I practiced, for the first time, in front of a camera. While recording, I ran through my speech at least four or five times. Each time I looked for gestures, eye contact, or something else that I could improve. My speech involved me spinning a drumstick around my thumb while I was in front of the whole class, so I made sure that I practiced that as well.
Eventually, it became time for me to give my speech. I walked up to the front of the classroom and began. I delivered my attention getter, I managed to spin the pencil around my thumb and not drop it, I made it through my main points, and was even able to incorporate a little bit of humor into my speech when a classmate dropped their pencil on the floor while trying to spin it.
My demonstration speech was the first time I enjoyed public speaking. I was directly able to share the knowledge I had learned with others. Beyond that, the nerves that accompanied my speeches were no longer an obstacle but instead a bonus. My nerves had lessened to the point where they didn’t stop me anymore and instead just contributed to the adrenaline rush of giving a speech and the eventual satisfaction after a speech is over.
I genuinely enjoyed every speech I gave after my demonstration speech, and I enjoyed the class as a whole. Because of Mrs.Hintze’s SPC-112 Public Speaking class, public speaking went from something I feared and avoided at all costs to something that I enjoy, actively pursue, and am considering making a career out of.
Most people who take public speaking here at North Scott will probably not have as quite of a positive experience as I did, but I think everybody who can take the class should. Who knows? Maybe the class you dreaded the most will become the class you love.