I have a student named Harly who is deathly afraid of speaking in front of her classmates. When those times came, where she had to speak in front of others, I have heard myself provide her (and students like her) with the following advice:
“You know, public speaking is the greatest fear faced by most people. For the majority of people it is even greater than the fear of death. But you know, the only way you will ever get over that fear is by facing it. Take every opportunity you have to speak in front of others and always volunteer to go first. If you do that, eventually that fear will decrease and perhaps it might even disappear completely.”
My wife was in my classroom when I gave Harly that advice on the day of our Dean Groom web conference at North Middle school, where Harly volunteered to present FIRST to teachers she did not even know as well as her classmates in a way that was TOTALLY new to everybody.
As I talked about my fear of presenting two workshops for teachers at a technology conference here in Great Falls, my big-headed wife reminded me of my lecture to Harly, and went on to talk about how I should take my own advice. And I guess I am taking my own advice, because I signed up to teach the workshops. I just hate it when someone else has to point it out…and I really wish the fear went away before I did the presenting.
On a personal note, On Tuesday, my wife and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. It is because of conversations like the one I just described that we have as successful of a marriage as we do. We have problems, just like everyone else, but when all is said and done, I consider myself to be about the luckiest man alive when I get to wake up next to my wife, Joanie, each day.