I conducted a Poetry Writing and Appreciation course at Whitfield State School in June.  One of the poetic exercises the ten year 5/6 students did was to write about something scary.  Risa chose Public Speaking.  Even though she has an outgoing personality, Risa says she finds speaking in public terrifying.  As her poem perfectly captures so many of those well-known feelings, I asked if we could share her poem on the Mt Sheridan Toastmasters website and she said yes.

Almost everyone who hasn’t practiced will be nervous of speaking in public.  However, we all have slightly different styles of fear and vulnerability.  I can deliver a prepared speech or poetry recital quite well, but I’m terrified of interviews and impromptu speaking.  To overcome my fears, I joined Toastmasters and it has certainly helped heaps.

On Saturday 14th July, I accompanied two of my student poets, Risa and Abigail, to the ABC Far North radio station and we appeared on “Saturday Breakfast with Sharon Molloy”.  It is a great honour to be invited onto a radio show, but that doesn’t stop it from being a nerve-wracking experience.  But practicing at Toastmasters does. 

This was my fourth radio interview and I didn’t lose any sleep the night before and actually looked forward to the experience!  I promoted my next poetry workshop at Mission Beach for Saturday 21st July, mentioned my involvement with Toastmasters and even remembered to promote the free download of Science Rhymes poems from my website (www.sciencerhymes.com.au). 

Then Abigail read out her poem “My Lovely Mate” before Risa bravely shared her public speaking fears with the community.  I hope you’ll enjoy sympathising with Risa’s sentiments – and consider attending some Toastmasters meetings.

Public Speaking
by Risa Otsuka-Cooper

I feel giant shivers run up my spine
That butterfly stomach is far from fine!
My arms hang awkwardly by my side
I really wish I could run and hide.

My knees are buckling under me
as if I’m as weak as a leaf from a tree
I’m sweating just like a sun-baked pig
Everyone watching seems suddenly big!

I can’t help but blush as red as a rose
It seems public speaking sure has its woes
Nervousness is my only emotion
I hope I won’t cause too much commotion

My voice starts out … very tiny
I’m sounding scared and a little bit whiney
I can’t believe it.  This isn’t fair
as shyness for me is very rare!