Lessons from Public Speaking – Emily Goad, Furman City

In a world filled with text messaging and social media, it is no surprise that I found public speaking as difficult as I did. For years I have been skeptical of adults promising that social media inhibits young people’s social skills, but today I began to agree with them. I ran for the PGS House of Representatives and spoke in front of roughly 70 girls. I had been planning my speech ever since I hastily filed to run for the office last night. I was thinking about the type of speech I wanted to give, the message I wanted to convey, a hook to capture the audience’s attention, and a catchy slogan for them to remember me by as they completed their ballot. I had a carefully structured speech and as I typed out an outline on my phone, I knew my speech sounded professional, personal, sympathetic, and passionate: qualities that I looked for in an elected official. However, the delivery happened differently from the organized plan that I had devised.

I listened to the girl to my right complete her speech as I tried to slow my quickening heart rate. I felt exactly like our first PGS Speaker, Mrs. Sally McKay, had described how the majority of people feel before speaking in front of a crowd – restless, nervous, and anxious. My brain went into autopilot mode and my turn came and went in an instant. My carefully thought-out examples of bills I had helped formulate vanished. I finished, hastily sat down, and felt an instant rush of relief. I did it. I finished and I actually felt good about my speech. I knew the improvements I could have made and the things that I forgot, but none of that mattered because I had finished.

As I write this post the results of that election still have not been revealed, but I am content knowing I did the best I could do at the time and grew in my public speaking skills drastically. I already know I am more confident and secure in my own identity and have proved that to myself by running for the House of Representatives. The beauty of Palmetto Girls State is not only that amazing, highly qualified young ladies grow together and form life-long friendships, but that individuals push themselves in areas that they never could have imagined and are supported by a great group of girls the entire time.