When I was in college I took a public speaking course, and it's probably a good thing I did. I was terrified every time I had to get up in front of my classmates (about 20-25 people, as I recall), but the more I did it the more I got used to it. The terror, I mean. We had to do a different "type" speech each week. I don't remember what the specific types were, but I remember our teacher almost did back flips when someone FINALLY used hand gestures in a speech. (It's all too easy to get white-knuckled grasping the sides of the podium.)
The week we had to do our persuasive speeches, I was in the middle of a break-up with a guy I had been dating for almost a year. I've written about him before; he's the one who Googled me and then told me we shouldn't be communicating because his wife wouldn't like it. He sang in the Men's Glee Club; I sang in the Women's Glee Club. He was Jewish; I wasn't. His mother hated me; I couldn't figure out why. (Duh - Have you no idea about the whole Jewish mom thing? I didn't at that time.)
I was feeling bitter and sad and depressed and angry and all the things that go along with a break-up that was initiated because his MOTHER said for him to.
Being the genius that I am, I decided to do my persuasive speech on the topic of not dating people from other religions. Yeah sure, I can be objective about THAT.
I don't have the slightest idea of what my teacher looked like. But I remember that I started off my speech with a sentence that said something along the lines of, "I don't have to tell you how bad the divorce rate is in our country....." or something equally erudite.
I made it through my speech, but just barely, without becoming emotional. My instructor sat in the back of the classroom so he could watch us just like the rest of the class. He gave me some immediate feedback about my speech, and I remember that he chided me for saying "I don't have to tell you" and then telling it anyway. Makes perfect sense.
But I couldn't turn around and look at him. Tears had welled up in my eyes, and I just kept staring down at my desk. He must have been smart enough to figure out what was going on, because he didn't press the issue. I was embarrassed, and I'm sure the rest of the class was embarrassed FOR me. Or they were thinking, "Man, I'm glad that's not me."
Note to self: Next time you have to give a persuasive speech, don't choose a topic that's so personally painful.
What was I thinking?