Why I push through my fears of speaking to get the satisfaction of contribution

by Sam Pennell

public_speakingI’m sure I’m not the only person in the world to feel nervous about public speaking. I’m sure that many people understand the fear of standing up in front of a group of people and not knowing what will happen. Will I become flustered and forget all the things I’d planned to say? Will the group become disinterested or even hostile? Will I look unprepared? Most importantly, will I look like an idiot?

I can’t think of an occasion where I haven’t had at least one of these thoughts flash through my head. It has happened before every book report in primary school, every speech or debate in high school, and every presentation at university. I always wonder how it is that others can look so effortless doing these things. I get this same feeling before every Water Well Proiect session I have presented in, and it never seems to get any easier each time. The funny thing is, as nervous and scared as I feel before each session with the Water Well Project, I always feel the same afterward – satisfied and fulfilled

Maybe it is the format of the Water Well sessions. As stressed and worried as you can get preparing, once the dialogue starts flowing in a group, it’s hard not to be swept up and have fun too. Maybe it’s that, as difficult as it can seem with the barrier of language, there’s a point when you all have a laugh and you can look another person in the eye and realise that despite your differences in background and upbringing, there are some ways in which you will always understand each other perfectly. Maybe it’s that, as boring and dry as the information may seem to you, nothing approaches that feeling of satisfaction when you realise they have learned something that has surprised them.

It is always with a sense of relief and satisfaction that I conclude a Water Well session, and realise that as I have been talking, so has everyone else. We have all contributed to a discussion that has enriched us all. I have sat there and helped answer questions using knowledge from all the ritual of school and study, combined with the lessons of life learned every day. They, in turn, remind me that ours is a lucky life. Our fears are nothing in the grand scheme of things, our insecurities inconsequential, and our concerns groundless.

There’s nothing quite like that feeling, after you leave a session, when you feel like you have shared something with someone who has appreciated it. It’s fun every time, and you feel useful every time.