The first Saturday in December in our community is known as Children’s Hometown Holiday. Our entire town is turned into a Hallmark movie for a weekend with all of the things that kids love. The biggest attraction above all, is the visit from the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus.
My kids were all excited to see Santa, but especially my youngest, Kate. She’s five years old and she’s been talking for weeks about asking Santa Claus to bring her an iPod.
For the entirety of the morning, she talked about how she was going to ask Santa to bring her the blue iPod she really really wants. She even laughed at her sister for not knowing what she wanted, because Kate knew she wanted an iPod.
Until she got on Santa’s knee.
When Father Christmas asked her what she wanted for Christmas this year, she giggled and then told him she wanted….a football.
This story is really funny to me. She was a little girl that knew what she wanted to say until it was time to say it and then something else came out of her mouth.
How many times has that happened to us when it’s our turn to speak? We know what we want to say, we think we’re prepared and then something else entirely is what comes out of our mouth when the pressure is on. We go from wanting an iPod to a football.
The problem isn’t that these events happen. It’s that we allow our fear of having these events stop us from trying at all.
The point to this story is that we can’t let the fear of saying the wrong thing hold us back from making the most of an opportunity to speak. We’re all human and we’re all going to make mistakes. The awesome thing is, however, that we’re human and we can learn from those mistakes and when we do, we have even better stories to tell the next time.
This isn’t an excuse to not prepare. Mistakes make us human and can endear us to an audience. Lack of preparation is lazy and will earn us the disdain of those that have to listen to us.
As you prepare for your next speaking engagement, make your list and check it twice. Make sure your thoughts are clear and concise. Just don’t worry too much about not getting it right. It will be a great presentation for all if don’t give in to stage fright.