The anguish of not being able to speak well

People mistakenly invite me to speak when they come to find that I write. But I don’t remember a single occasion when I spoke well. I do have those moments when I thought I did well. But when I ask for honest reviews, I have not had a ‘great’ review till date. At best, they say the content was good.

The height of my problem was exemplified yesterday when I read Bible during Sunday morning worship service. I thought I did a decent job and people told me after service that I read well. What is there in reading a text? But later when I asked my wife how it went, she said the introduction didn’t go smoothly. There it is. Before reading the text, one says, ‘the Scripture passage for this morning is’, or ‘the Bible passage which I am going to read now is’. That is all, and I can’t even say that smoothly despite several rehearsals at home.

I have delivered speeches that I want to forget. There was one where I spoke to a big crowd in a football ground without a sound system in a language which I am not confident in. It was caught on tape and sold in CDs (as one of the sessions). I wish to never see it.

But if I have to, I will speak again. I do not have a speech problem in my anatomy or physiology. It is just that I don’t have the gift of public speaking and putting thoughts to spoken words. The heart of the matter is given below, why I would call the situation as an anguish.

‘When you speak, your words echo only across the room or down the hall. but when you write, your words echo down the ages’, said Bud Gardner, and I took it to heart. I love writing. I can put my thoughts to paper 10 times easier than I can speak them. I have had reviews about my articles above my expectation. I have made some money and I may be able to earn my daily bread (if man can live by bread alone) if I invest my time in writing. But the anguish of not being able to speak well remains. I envy those who can speak well.

Those people who I want to speak to the most are the ones who don’t read. At home, in the village, in the workplace, people I meet every day, people who I have social interaction with, people with problems or people who I want to help; those are the people. While having conversation with my milkman, I cannot say, ‘I have written an article on that topic, please visit my website and read for yourself’. There are young cousins and students who I want to teach and motivate, but the above problem often gets in the way. This is the anguish and the frustration.

If a one line introduction goes wrong despite rehearsals, I think I need to attend a speaking class…or write with vengeance.

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