Public Speaking Victories

by Jimmie Lanley on December 2, 2011

Sometimes the best part about a project is that it’s over.

4h-speech DONE

Leaving Podium; Speech is finished!

I guess that being twelve years old and giving your first speech is good explanation for the emotional roller coaster this project created. On my part, I renewed my title as a mean mamma and a “crazy English chick” through the process.

Initially there was pleading that I wouldn’t make her give a speech. But I held my stand.

The speech is part of language arts. This is not an elective. This is school.

At times there was a rebellious refusal to do it. I simply reminded her that she would do it. At times she tried the “I can’t do it” routine. Nope. Not buying that either.

Then she found a topic she was passionate about — materials for drawing class. Excitement about the topic motivated her. She wrote the world’s best essay on pencils, paper, and smudgers. Sprite revised her essay repeatedly, agonizing over every detail. Then the memorizing and practice began.

There were exultant moments of confidence when she nailed a paragraph. Then there would be feelings of failure when she botched something — again. She made note cards, tried them out, tore them up, and started over. She color coded, devised a system, and practiced yet more.

speech making notecards

Writing notecards for speech

She took breaks. She recorded herself on her iPod and listened as she bathed. She prayed to the Lord for strength.

She wisely talked to herself:

I can do this. I know this material. My speech is good.

No one there will hate me. My mom will be there. She loves me. C will be there. She loves me. I will look at them.

I will learn this in time.

If I mess up, no one knows. They haven’t read my speech. I can fix it on the fly.

I cannot tell you how proud I was of her through this process. Actually, I’m sure you know. If you have seen your child persevere through a challenge and succeed, you know exactly the pride I felt as my Sprite walked off that podium at our local 4H club. It wasn’t that her speech was flawless and polished. It was about fighting through the fear and coming through a victor.

4h-speech Sprite

Giving the Speech (This is posed after the fact.)

She made mistakes. But she recovered with grace. She earned second place against only one other competitor in her grade. But she looked at the positive marks on her score sheets and congratulated herself . She knew that she had delivered her speech with excellence. And it was over. Big sigh.

On the ride home, I tested the waters by asking when the county competition would be. Sprite said she didn’t know. I quietly asked, “Do you want to try it?” There was a pause before she answered with a soft no. She glanced at me. I smiled. She smiled.

“You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?” I probed.

She nodded.


And my heart filled with pride again.


4h-speech notecards

We kept the cards just in case.

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