I recognize that public speaking can be an important skill, but even though I teach, have presented workshops about difficult topics to crowds of people, and facilitate groups, it still doesn’t always come naturally to me.
As a proud introverted person, I process things internally and typically need more time to reflect before responding than is often deemed appropriate for “on the fly”, “real-time” rate of pace that I have come to believe is expected in many public spaces.
Although exaggerated, I saw a bit of myself in the sloth in terms of its comparison with a different processing style, and in regards to the timing I need to process things before responding.
At times I have been a reluctant public speaker; partly because of how energy sapping the act of public speaking can be for me, and partly because of the subtle and overt messages I received about my racial identity that taught me that I shouldn’t speak; that my voice wasn’t valid; that my experiences, and concerns didn’t matter.
One of the reasons I love higher education so much is that I was able to find my voice from affirming people, experiences, and places I had on campus and in the classroom. And from those moments, throughout those years, I came to realize that what helped me push through my reluctance to speak; what helped me overcome the temptation to stay silent, particularly about issues related to social justice was the passion and purpose behind the words.
Tapping into that sense of passion and purpose and speaking from the heart has emboldened me to say and do things that I didn’t think I could, and it continues to serve me today.
How are you with public speaking?
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones