To Speak Or Not To Speak

Jon Pearcy, Staff Writer

I was always afraid of public speaking when I was little. That seems to be common for most people, fear of public speaking is right up there with fear of dying for most Americans. But for me it seemed worse than for many of my classmates. I was absolutely petrified of public speaking. The thought of getting up in front of a class for even a simple presentation would make my palms sweat and my stomach turn. I knew it was weird too, I had no problem speaking up from my desk or answering questions, and from listening to other people speak in front of the class I knew it was really no big deal, but for some reason I couldn’t get over it.

For that reason it seemed strange to me that I ended up in the Model United Nations (MUN) class my junior year. The idea of speaking in front of people still terrified me to no end, but I had signed myself up for a class where I would have to do it. I had convinced myself that it was to help me get over my fears of public speaking, but at first it didn’t seem to be working. For most of the class I would sit in my seat, only occasionally volunteering to get up and speak, each time going up and nervously speaking with a quake in my voice. I tried my best, wrote my speeches, and did my research, and the first conference arrived.

I spoke maybe twice during that entire three day period. Hours upon hours of sitting in a chair listening to other people talk and every time I put myself on the speaking list I would always cross myself off before it was my time.

I left that conference slightly disheartened, but still determined to conquer my fear. I started trying harder in class, forcing myself to speak more often, and by the time the second conference came around I was at least a little more prepared.

I was lucky in the second conference, I ended up in a committee with very few people (especially compared to my first one), and it was the perfect environment for me. The committee worked on a round table system, meaning that everyone had to speak when it came to their spot, which forced me to get up and talk even when I didn’t want to. It forced me out of my comfort zone, and slowly I got over my nerves and began speaking more confidently.

By the time MUN started up this year I could finally talk in front of people without sweating and stuttering, and in fact began to enjoy public speaking. It’s the reason that I think taking MUN was one of the best choices of my high school career.