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“Miss the excitement of being in love? Then do something that will give you butterflies in the stomach: go on a roller coaster, do a parachute jump or offer to make a speech at a social event.”

This quote from Eva Gizowska’s Things to do now that you’re…single again has been lingering on my mind for quite some time. Honestly I thought, “how am I going to accomplish this?” I don’t have access to a roller coaster for a few more months as the weather doesn’t permit for any year round amusement parks to be open in Illinois. Likewise, a parachute jump just couldn’t happen right now and likely is a bit costly. (I try to maintain economic choices not just for myself but my readers. That’s you!)

That left me with the speech, and how was I supposed to accomplish that?

As part of my college requirements I had to complete a speech course, which I did quite a few years back. Not only did it turn out I was fairly decent at giving them, I actually enjoyed it! But I hadn’t given one since. Shortly after my boyfriends passing I had looked into presenting to my former highschool’s health class on teen pregnancy but the health department turned the idea down. (Something about not enough time as it is to fit all the material that needed to be covered…blah blah blah).

As it turned out, it wasn’t long after they turned me down that the drug awareness organization I founded came to conception, Wake the Nation. As part of our mission statement we spread awareness and education, and I really can’t think of any better way to start then presenting to highschoolers. This time I contacted a different person at the higschool as well as some local businesses.

One organization responded very positively to the idea and invited me to orchestrate a speaking engagement for the highschool aged kids that are actively involved with them. I was stoked and got busy planning!

I contacted other awareness groups to be involved, convinced the health education center in my area to lend me a facilitator, had information for treatment centers and government drug fact agencies mail me material on facts and statistics and treatment options, and lined up a list of presenters to speak.

Throughout the process of setting all this up, I knew I’d end up speaking. The problem was, I had no clue what I would say. I wanted to spread awareness and education but I really had no idea how. I had no thesis, no structure, and no clue where to start.

Despite my incredible writing skills, if I do say so myself, I couldn’t write what I was thinking in an organized way let alone verbalize it.

So I recruited help. To be honest, I had mentioned my dream to start an organization to this person awhile back and it just so happened he contacted me to offer his time and talents, pretty much out of the blue, only a few days before I was set to present. (Funny how things work out!) My college speech teacher, who’s a very busy guy with a wonderful young family, had offered his professional expertise to coach me through the process! We met, he may as well have given my speech right there and then, and I went on my merry way ready to go! Ok, not exactly ready to go. I met with him a second time to practice my speech before the big day.

To be honest I was very nervous about presenting for him, and that’s putting it lightly. In addition to not having publicly spoken in years, I hadn’t vocalized my boyfriends passing, and here I was about to for my speech teacher. The teacher who taught me how. I was concerned with what I would remember or worse, forget, from his classes. I didn’t want to let him down as I really felt this was a reflection of how well he had taught me.

I have this theory that publicly speaking in front of a crowd is no big deal…so long as you don’t know them. I’m really not at all afraid to make a fool of myself. But put me in front of my friends, family, people I know or like, and I’m going to be embarrassed before I even open my mouth.

Sure enough, half way through my speech I lost all my organized thoughts, skipped hopped and tripped on my words, and concluded with, “I need some more practice”.  But it was over! I had made it through standing in front of a room full of chairs and only one person there, my teacher.

Luckily, aside from generally being hilarious, he has a very positive outlook. His criticisms if you can even call it that, will make you laugh and set you up to be confident. I left with three more pages of notes on my posture, purposeful movement, and more powerful statements to share.

I forbid my parents from attending, never really invited any friends, and was completely relieved when the few that I did, ran late or inevitably didn’t make it. I stood up there with butterflies in my stomach and delivered my speech.  And to be honest, I think I nailed it!

Not only was it good for my organization, (many thanks to all those involved especially my speech professor), but the butterflies in my stomach, the high on life feeling that followed…it was all good for me. I drove home that night dancing in my car, completely jamming out. I felt amazing! The presentation I orchestrated, even now, days later, is still filling me with pride and sending a tinkle of happiness through me. I guess we could call that, the butterfly effect.