Category Archives: Speech

Stage Fright

It takes a long time
to get fear out of your veins
and put yourself out there
and be alive

For those who like hiding
and are afraid to be seen
before they get comfortable
up on stage, on their own

But once you find
that the trembling’s subsided
even just a little
you get a taste of joy

And once you’ve adapted
you don’t let go
You remember the stage
and forget the fright

When it’s your turn to speak
Your heart doesn’t jump
Your breath comes even
Your heart’s almost normal

It’ll always be
a little bit fluttery
but that’s
the thrill
of the stage.

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Song of Hope

Late afternoon sun lights up the end of the long hallway. It’s quiet and still. I’m here alone, sitting on a convenient chair just outside the closed door. I’m waiting for it to open.

I know the drill. Somebody’s in there right now, another homeschool highschooler, presenting their interp to the row of judges. I would love to watch, but I never watch right before I give my own speech. I need time to focus. Rehearse the lines silently in my head. After that, just wait.

The nerves start to play with you when you’re waiting for the door to open, but that’s nothing new. You find ways of calming yourself, and though you always stay a little afraid, the thrill of performing soon overcomes the butterflies.

I have space in this hallway, in this Korean church and school in New Jersey, to settle down and mentally prepare for my speech. The diffuse glow on the linoleum floors is soft and pleasant. Once again, I feel the nerves tie my stomach in knots.

Go away, I tell them. I shift in the kid’s chair. Still nervous. Quietly, I begin to sing to myself, sing the nerves away.

It’s Song of Hope, and it’s one of my tournament theme songs. At least, it became my theme song that day. It’s a song that makes you feel small, in a good way. It made speech room stage fright up and disappear when I needed it to.

Typically fear follows me into the competition room and remains for the first few seconds of performance until I find my groove and stay there. Not this time. This time when the door opens I’m ready, standing with an easy smile.

I enter and walk to the center of the room. The judges are finishing writing down their thoughts from the previous performance. I hold up my name tag where they can easily see.

“My name is Kira Gregory. Are the judges ready?” They nod. “The timer?” Yup. “Let’s begin.”

The Art of Speaking

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There’s only one way to learn how to speak to an audience. Practice. And once you practice enough, you start to see what speaking actually is.

Speaking is the art of self-improvement, of believing in yourself and others. Everyone has their own style to hone into something wonderful, and no one can be exactly like anyone else. Personalities shine through in speaking styles and the way you interact with an audience. Speaking is the art of becoming who you are.

One thing I learn, over and over again (perhaps I haven’t really learned after all), is that in order to give a good speech, you have to believe in it. You have to be positive. Without a positive attitude to bring a message to life, you’re dead in the water. With a can-do attitude, you’ll have the energy to shine, and people will take notice.

It translates to every area of life. Whenever you need to take initiative and make something yourself, believe that you can. Believe you have something to share, because you do. This is what turns your spark of light into a lighthouse beam.

Impromptu Prompt

“Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results – the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it. Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you, regardless.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

It’s hard to know how to write a bestseller. In fact, I’ll admit it—I don’t know what the secret is. But I do know a little about creativity.

Your creative and imaginative abilities thrive with practice, like most skills. For content producers like me, being able to think up new ideas and implement them is a skill worth cultivating. And, as Albert Einstein said:

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”

Creativity isn’t just being original. It’s rehashing and reshaping ideas that came before yours, in new and imaginative ways.

One of the best activities I know of for practicing creative thought is the dreaded impromptu speech. When I competed in high school, my speech coach told us:

“Impromptu is the easiest speech to give. Why? No preparation. And impromptu is the hardest speech to give. Why? No preparation.”

When you draw a random topic and have all of 2 minutes to concoct a coherent and engaging 5-minute speech, your poor strained mind will soon learn what it is to be creatively productive. And so my mind did. After many flounders, and too many speeches to count, my creative faculties rose to the task. Now, every time I write a blog post, or rush towards a NaNoWriMo word count goal, or even just speak casually, I use the skills I practiced with impromptu speaking.

Try impromptu! Find a local speech league and sign up. If you want a crash course in creativity, nothing matches the 2 minutes deadline and 5 minute speech.