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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Myra December 2, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Good for you, Sprite. I remember giving speeches when I went to school. I was SO nervous and SO happy and relieved when it was all over. Now, I look back on it and only remember that feeling of elation, and not the fear. You will too.


Dell December 3, 2011 at 9:58 am

Well done, Sprite! That perseverance–as well as knowing you can do it–will serve you well through life! (And well done, “mean/crazy English mama”.)


amy in peru December 3, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I’m so proud of BOTH of you!
Good job, Sprite!! Good job, Jimmie! 😉
I wish I could’ve been there!



Eileen December 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Way to go! This is so good for you. I’m glad you persevered.


drue December 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Hooray, Sprite and Jimmie! Great job. I don’t recall giving speeches in school, but I did do them later in college and law school. Practice does make it so much easier. You never know when confidence in public speaking will come to serve you well.


Jennifer McCumbers December 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Aw, I got teary eyed at the end! Good job, Sprite! You don’t know me at all, but I’m proud of you too. 🙂


Nikki December 3, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I know this might sound a little…strange, but I got tears in my eyes reading this! Way to go Sprite! No matter what path she chooses for her life, public speaking will be a huge asset!


Nadene December 5, 2011 at 3:23 am

What wonderful victory! Well done Sprite for going all the way. So much is learnt and discovered when doing something for the first time. Jimmie, your firm yet gracious approach is really inspiring!


Dana Wilson December 5, 2011 at 10:43 am

Kudos to mom and daughter over a job well done! Our children have no idea how difficult it is for us to to hold firm on something like that while our mommy hearts are in agony over their anguish! It is wonderful that Sprite is learning to rely upon the Lord, too, for her strength in difficult circumstances. Good job, Jimmie. 🙂


Sydni December 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm

What a victory! And, you wrote about Sprite’s struggles and triumphs beautifully. Thank you for sharing.


Mary December 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Great job, Sprite! Jimmie, I admire the way you “held firm” with her. I do believe that sometimes our children need some gentle nudging into things like this. I am so glad she did so well and I can imagine how proud you were. 🙂


Ami December 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

Why I have tears in my eyes, I’m not sure. I guess I’m just super proud of her. Blogs are a weird thing, you know. I’ve watched Sprite grow up, and even though I’ve never met her, I’m proud.

You are a great teacher, Jimmie! You constantly inspire me like no other. 🙂

🙂 Ami


Ellen December 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Yeah for Sprite! Public speaking is such a difficult thing. My kids are involved in NCFCA (Christian homeschooling forensic thingy) – 1 loves it, 1 sort of loves it, 1 is scared but does it, 1 would easily give it up and hide in a closet! But perseverance is important.


Giggly Girls December 10, 2011 at 8:42 am

WTG Sprite!!!!


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