What’s the Big Deal?


Today in Speech Communication class, I presented my first speech. We of course went over in class how anxiety rises and the levels of anxiety can vary for the individual. I knew I had it ‘in-the-bag’. After all, I’ve spoken at conferences, women’s groups, teach a small group; what’s the big deal?

Our assignment was to present a Personal Narrative Speech, no longer than 3 minutes. In class we learned that a speech should contain an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction should contain a thesis statement, open with impact, and a preview of the main points. The body should contain 3 points and if desired, each point can contain a sub-point. The conclusion should summarize the thesis statement along with the main points, which can be done via a story, a quote, etc. and should be impactful.

Being that this class was added on to my schedule a week after classes begun, my first class I stayed after to ask the professor what I needed to do to get caught up as well as how I should plan for the upcoming speech. He informed me that the class discussion we just had should bring me current. In addition, he informed me how most of the classes speeches would sound but he was sure that life experience would be more reflected in mine. Nice, already the pressure is on to sound ‘grown-up’ because of my age.

One of the keys to a good speech is to practice. I had worked hard on my speech and was actually quite proud of my result, until it came time to practice. Remember, our speech had to be 3 minutes short, I mean long. I took myself to my kitchen where I found a timer on my microwave. I set it for 3 minutes. When I got to point 2, I found the microwave beeping at me. No problem, it was my first practice; I just need to speak faster. I attempted this 5 more times before I was convinenced that the stupid microwave was broken and not cooperating with my expectations. However, after countless attempts resulting in complete failure, I figured it was time to stop getting mad at the microwave and just edit my speech. Alas, editing was complete and now it was time to teach the microwave how not to beep at me! I practiced my speech and each time ended it with 10 seconds to spare. Yes! 

I arrive to class in my dress slacks, stylish shirt, and little dress pumps. I look around and notice that all the other girls were in jeans and glitter flip-flops. Did I miss the memo of what “dressing for a speech” is to look like or am I just really that old? Please don’t answer that. In order to be fair, the professor placed all our names in a bowl and drew our names in the order we were to present. A few people had presented their speeches and then I heard, ‘Penny’. Oh joy, it was now my turn. I had been fine until that point and suddenly my insides started acting all quirky. It was a ‘nerve quake’ taking place… “I feel the earth move, under my feet…”. I write my name on the board, turn to face my professor… oh, did I mention our speeches were being videotaped… and waited for his nod to begin.

“I’m not living a life of regrets; instead I’m accumulating experiences while enjoying the journey. Hi, I’m Penny and I’m going to share with you how I’m taking risk, facing fears, and seizing opportunities in order to change my life and my legacy. (flip index card – this would be about the time that I noticed my voice was shaking and crackling)

I’m currently taking two risks. The first risk is I’m writing a book. I’ve had a speech impediment since I was 3 and was in speech therapy through 8th grade. I’ve always wanted to be a world-renowned speaker and a bestselling author however, I stutter, I struggle with pronunciation, and I am probably one of the world’s worst spellers. So you can see where writing a book would be a little risky. My second risk is attending college with you wonderful people. This leads me into facing fears. (flip index card)

I stand before you a single mom of a 13-year-old and a 7-year-old. While I’m trying really hard not to worry if you can see my grey hairs because my Clairol didn’t take last night or if you’re counting the wrinkles on my forehead, I can’t  help thinking about that when I was graduating high school, you were just being potty trained. That fact, in and of itself, makes me want to not run out of here but bolt out of here faster than you could blink your eyes. (flip index card – this would be about the time that I noticed my hands were trembling, I could literally see the index cards moving in my hand.)

However, if I don’t face this fear by taking this risk, I will have missed out on seizing an opportunity. (This is where I began losing track of where I am on my index card because my head was screaming, ‘make your hands stop moving’) An opportunity to better my life, changing my legacy for my children and most importantly, discovering the plan and the purpose He has for me. Thus, I must seize this opportunity. (flip index card – this would be the point where I’m focused so much on stopping my hands from shaking that my left legs begins moving… no, no, not moving, violently shaking. Better visual for you… imagine a dog lying on its back while you rub its belly and as the dog finds pleasure in being massaged it reflects such pleasure by hind leg shaking uncontrollably as if it where scratching for fleas in the air. Get the picture?)

See, my life isn’t about taking a risk to simply take a risk. It isn’t about having a life of adventure, just because. (Seriously, all loss of concentration is out the window and my head is screaming, ‘please stop rubbing my belly so my leg will stop shaking – oh wait, there’s no one rubbing my belly… oh shoot, where was I?) My life is about living intentionally and purposefully, not once but in every moment. (‘Oh crap, don’t cry, don’t cry!’) The only way for me, personally, to live this way is by taking risks, facing fears, and (‘darn leg, enough already – shoot, what am I suppose to say next… uh, uh… oh yeah’) seizing opportunities so that not only will I have accumulated experiences (‘oh my word!!! Will someone please make my leg STOP! Oh man, what was I saying?’) while enjoying my journey, I will have lived a life (oh please ENOUGH ALREADY! Um, last line Penny… what’s the last line? Think! THINK!’) I will have lived a life worth telling stories about. Thank you. (‘Oh dear Lord, get me to the door faster please! Just get me out of here!’)

What’s the big deal? Humans legs do shake like a dog’s hind leg, though not from pleasure but hey, you can always chalk it up to ‘accumulating an experience while (not) enjoying (not) enjoying the journey’!

Copyrighted by reflectionsbypj 2009/09/15


5 thoughts on “What’s the Big Deal?

  1. All that drama over the shaking leg and it couldn’t even be seen in the video… I was a little disappointed! Ha! 🙂

  2. Penny- you definately have a god given talent.. I know that when you finish your book, it will be a best seller.. I cannot wait to read it.. Everytime I read your blogs, I am usually laughing so hard or shaking my head in agreement… Definately a God given talent… You made my Saturday morning.. I am now smiling!!!

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