Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Making My Point

Jennifer laments her lack of speaking skills...

I’ve spent the past week writing and rewriting something I think I want to say at a meeting I’m attending. With the amount of time I’ve taken, you’d think it was some long speech that I have to make, when in truth, it’s maybe four sentences. But I’ve agonized over these four sentences every single day.

One reason is that I am going on record and rebuking someone and I’m trying to balance on the fine line of giving my opinion while still sounding rational and not intentionally hurting anyone.

The biggest reason, however, is that I’m speaking it, not writing it. I hate public speaking. I’m the stereotypical introverted writer. I’d much rather speak to my characters in my head than to a roomful of people.

In my head, everything works out fine and I have the exact words available at the perfect time. My retorts are perfect too. But I know that if I rely on what’s in my head, when the time comes, I’ll forget what I want to say, how I want to say it, and lose my point in the morass.

That’s why writing is so great. I can write and revise to my heart’s content. I can bend and shape the words until I get across the exact point I want to make. I can give my characters the perfect response, when in reality, I wouldn’t think of the perfect response for hours or days after the fact, long after the opportunity had passed.

Public speakers are taught how to speak, to make eye contact and to use gestures to make their point. But I’m weak at public speaking, and my point is too important to get lost. So I’m going to rely on my writing skills—such as they may be—to make my point.

And hope that my words are enough.


  1. Good luck, Jen!
    Laboring over the words like you are shows how much you care. That will come through at the meeting.

  2. Yes, but writing is so much easier than speaking, even though sometimes the writing doesn't come easily at all. I hate that chasm between what I hear in my head and what gets onto the page, whether it's for a meeting or a book!

  3. Agree about writing being easier than speaking. The best 'speeches' I've ever given are in my mind - on the way home from an event, when I know exactly what I should have said, but didn't!
    Good luck with your four sentences!

  4. I don't mind speaking in public, but I do write everything out first and practice and practice and practice. And even then sometimes it doesn't come off quite like I planned it. But I try to practice for 'ad-lib' situations as well.

    Good luck, Jen. I'm sure you'll do fine!

    1. Thanks, Debra. I made my point and now I'm done.

  5. I identify! When my fingers are tapping across the keyboard the word I want seems to pop into my head. When speaking to a group, even just to make a comment or in conversation, the word I want eludes me. It's very frustrating. I rarely had this difficulty in the comfort of my own classroom, but put me in front of a group of others - the word is gone! Agonizing over your words shows how important the message is for you. Practice will help, but you also must be able to focus on what others say for your response to be appropriate and appear natural and unrehearsed. Tell yourself in the mirror a few times. You'll be right! Please let us know how you get on. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Norah. I made my speech and was able to respond to the comments as well. Of course, it wasn't as good as it was in my head, but I survived!