When I was 18 I entered a public speaking competition for the first time… It changed my life.
I always said to myself, “Give me a stage and I’ll be amazing!” I genuinely believed it for ages. I would spend hours at a time, enough for scalding hot tub water to go tepid, imagining myself as Headboy giving speeches that would wow the crowd. I remember critiquing the speeches given by the headboys at the time, mentally grading them like the strictest English teacher you could imagine. “I can do better.” I thought. “Much better!” But I wasn’t Headboy so I had nothing to show for it.
This belief/delusion continued for long enough that I made the conscious decision to actually try and find how exactly how good I was. “I’m busy because I have to…” I can’t remember what Thabo had to do but he was on the fence about doing yet ANOTHER speech. He was the resident speaker for house and for the school as he was quite well versed and eloquent, bringing joy (not ironic because that’s what his name means) for long a periods at a time (quite ironic because he was – and still is – short). This was my opportunity. So I took it.
“I’ll do it!”
I wrote my speech the day before it was to be performed. Then rehearsed it in the mirror once or twice before going to bed. Why? Because I’m a genius and don’t need more preparation. Today I laugh at the pride. I can’t recall the name of my speech. It was funny. I made it about love. I tore the notes on the stage (for dramatic effect) then proceeded to forget the entire speech.
What proceeded out of my mouth was undoubtedly the best bit of improv I’d ever done to that point. I don’t think there has ever been a crowd deceived so well… except maybe at political rallies. I stood there hands shaking racking my brain for ideas. I made everyone turn their heads, judges included, thinking that the subject of my proclamation of love (which the speech ended up being about) was in the room. She/he/it wasn’t, for it didn’t exist! XD
The quavering in my voice at the beginning was long gone. My hands were rock solid, gesticulating as I mentally ordered them, practically scoffing at the tremors that travelled through them earlier.
I finished to rapturous applause. And an ovation. I was mad happy fam! It temporarily quenched a thirst I never knew I had.
In the end I still came second LOL but that’s a story for a different day.
Thank you for your time 🙂