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My “First Seven-Minute Speech” Moment


Tue Apr 02 2019

My “First Seven-Minute Speech” Moment

“At 36 years of age, I was the oldest student in my undergraduate communications studies class. This was my second semester in college, and I was doing my best to lay low. The time came for us to learn to speak publicly—a frightening time for someone as shy as I was. The learning began innocently enough as the instructor lined up five students at a time in front of the class and asked us to introduce ourselves.

“Fourth in line, I found myself tensing and my mouth drying up as my turn drew closer. I barely made it through that experience.

Our next assignment was a one-minute speech with notecards. Again, somewhat terrified, I muddled through. We progressed until we were assigned a seven-minute speech with notecards. Bravely, I volunteered to go first with no notes.


“I began my talk with my memorized opening. After that, my mind went totally blank! I was mortified as the class politely sat and watched me shrink into nothingness. I admitted that I couldn't go on and sat back down completely unnerved. After everyone took their turns, the instructor asked if I wanted to try again.

“With nothing to lose, I went back to the front of the room this time with notes in hand. As it turned out, I hardly needed the notes and made my way through the speech.

That emboldened and surprised me! I continued practicing my craft and became a competent public speaker who presented at regional, state, and national levels. I also taught three-hour evening business courses at a local university.

“The lesson: Believe in yourself, dare yourself, and persist. You will surprise yourself and find that being frightened can be a real motivator.”

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