The first time you give a speech is truly a special moment, a beginning of something special, and i will surely never forget the first time that i gave a speech.

As a kid, i was extremely shy and seldom said anything, choosing to stay quiet most of the time. When i was twelve and about to graduate from elementary school, i remember that my teacher pulled me aside one day and offered to make a deal with me. She told me how i was getting As in all of my subjects- except for handwriting, in which i has only managed to muster up a C. so she presented me an offer: if i were to give the welcome speech at graduation, i would get an A in handwriting.

My first thought was that giving a speech doesn’t sound like much fun. But hey, who was i to complain if i could get an A so easily. I mean, it couldn’t be that much work now, could it? Now that i think of the speech i wrote, it was extremely boring and straightforward. It started with something as uninventive and monotonous as. “Good afternoon parents, teachers, and students at Bruns Avenue Elementary. Welcome to the graduation ceremony if 1975.”

As you can tell, my speech was nothing fancy and i am sure nobody remembered it either, but the important lesson here is that i got through it and it taught me something very important- it was that if i were to just be willing to stand up and speak, people will do the things that i want them to do. I got an A instead of a C, afterall. Now i don’t know if it was an ethical thing to do for the teacher, that is a debate for later. My handwriting is still nothing special but i can give speeches with confidence.

Next year in junior high school, it gave me more confidence when i started running for student council and had to give speeches in front of other students. The earlier you can stand up and speak, the better it is, especially when the stakes are low. Giving a speech and getting some positive reinforcement regardless of its quality was an important first step that i had to take and hopefully you can too.

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