Posted by: penpatience | August 1, 2018


WRITERS WORDS:  “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.-–Dale Carnegie





Have you ever experienced stage fright when asked to give a speech? When it’s your turn to step up to the microphone and give a presentation, introduce a noted professional or recite your poetry or prose in front of an audience, do you panic?  Are your hands clammy, your heart pounding in your chest and your face wearing a worried frown hoping the microphone won’t malfunction?  Well, you’re not alone. Presenting yourself in front of an audience a first time can be daunting.  I share with you my true story…. (And yes, it was a long time ago)

I was an evening student. I was tired after a long and busy day at work. I headed over to a local college to attend the first night of a communications class. I raced through a Burger-King drive-thru, attempted to scarf down a grilled chicken sandwich and a cup of coffee when stopped at the red lights. It was my experience most times the first evening of a course is easy. Professors usually takes attendance, provides a course overview,  hands out the syllabus and students leave early. Not this time. Students were given five minutes to interview a neighbor seated to their right and give a three minute presentation in front of the class.  When it was my turn I walked to the front of the class and drew a blank. A red blush was beginning to creep up my neck when I finally pointed to my next-door student and said, “What did you say your name was again?”  My classmates laughed and cracked-up—even the professor had a crooked smile on his face.  Was I a success? I still don’t know, but I can tell you I aced the course.

Public speaking was and is a necessary skill not only in the business world but in most everyone’s professional life. Unfortunately, many individuals may be shy, introverted folks and  lack the self-confidence to speak in public, but alas, they must! Do any of you remember Dale Carnegie? Many organizations in the past and present sent reticent staff members in need of these skills to a Dale Carnegie Course.

Dale Carnegie (1888-1955) was born in Missouri, educated at Warrensburg State Teachers College. He was a salesman and aspiring actor, traveled to New York and taught adult communications classes at the YMCA.  In 1912, the world-famous Dale Carnegie course was born. A prominent lecturer of his day and a sought after lecturer to world leaders, he authored several best-sellers. Perhaps, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” was one of his most popular and influential books. He founded what is today a world-wide network of over 3,000 instructors in more than 80 countries. (  (Excerpted from a copy of my aged but saved Dale Carnegie Golden Book)

Dale Carnegie training principles have helped many individuals gain self-confidence and interpersonal skills to become successful speakers. During my professional years, I gave many presentations and I would like to say practice does make—almost perfectJ However, there were a few speaker annoyances I witnessed over time:

We’ve all heard a speaker shout “Can you all hear me in the back?” We’ve listened to paper shuffling,  noticed not enough eye contact and finger-linking to turn pages amplified by a microphone. Jokes told that were “questionable” or just not funny. My personal pet peeve was a speaker taking too many questions after the conclusion of a presentation.   Limit question time frame to no more than twenty minutes. Attendees are stiff from sitting and it’s time to head to the bar for refreshment or grab our coats and go home.

Dear Readers, Do you have a speaker tale to share?  My comments page awaits you.



  1. Great article! I got up to read my piece at a recent women’s writing retreat, knowing I had a maximum of 5 minutes to read. I was pretty sure my piece fell below 5 minutes so I started reading fairly confidently, although my voice quavered. Then I noticed the timer giving me the 30 second warning and I still had a page to read! So I jumped forward and barely finished as the timer approached me to tap me on the shoulder. But I turned and gave her a hug instead! The room roared! And that’s my public speaking story!


  2. Pat, What a great true story. I loved it. And yes, you “aced” it too.


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