From my first speech to now
The very first speech I gave in public was for a Public Speaking course my sophomore year in college. The assignment was to introduce ourselves by comparing campus culture with the cultures from our hometown. As with most students on their first speech, I shivered with apprehension. The second the words came out of my mouth, my face flushed red. My eyes glossed over and filled with nervous tears. And then, after presenting only my thesis statement, I farted.
Speaking is a craft that develops over time and I’m proud to say my ole fart-during-a-speech days are behind me. Unbeknownst to me at the time, that first speech would foreshadow my future as an educator, as a speaker, and as a facilitator. In that first speech, I compared and clashed different cultures together to better understand myself. While extremely embarrassing, passing gas in public allowed me to laugh with the audience at my own shortcomings. It eased all tension in the room and I learned the importance of humor. As the famous communication scholar, Kenneth Burke, claims:
“The progress of human enlightenment can go no further than in picturing people not as vicious, but as mistaken. When you add that people are necessarily mistaken, that all people are exposed to situations in which they must act as fools, that every insight contains its own special kind of blindness, you complete the comic circle, returning again to the lesson of humility that underlies great tragedy.”
(Attitudes Towards History, 41, emphasis mine)
Yes, perhaps passing gas in a presentation is tragically humbling, but laughing at my foolish behavior with my audience showed us something important. That day in class so many years ago, I discussed cultural diversity, and at the same time, through my own folly, educated the class and myself on the importance of humor.
Diversity. Education. Humor. Fast forward to today, and guess what?! My speeches still continue to center on these three important topics.
See below for a list of speech topics and recent presentations.