Public speaking might just be the greatest thing in the entire world.
I know that the instinctual response to a statement like this is to cringe and join another conversation, but I implore you – hear me out.
Public speaking is one of the best ways to feel alive.
For most people, getting up in front of an audience to present a PowerPoint or read a speech is akin to torture. No one wants to experience that mind-numbing terror that puts even the most basic human abilities firmly out of reach.
We stutter. We shake. We sweat.
Our hearts race as the adrenaline kicks in, our stomachs clench, and it takes everything in our power not to run away and hide. Most would rather write a five-page paper than address a crowded room from a stage for 15 minutes.
But the feelings I just described are among the most sought-after in the world. People line up for hours just to get their hearts racing and experience that terror that cancels out all the problems in the world. Some roller coasters have lines that seemingly stretch for miles just so people can experience one of the most universal fears: heights. The eventual fall feels like it will pull the world apart, yet when people step off, they’re usually smiles all around.
Crowds converge on theaters when the newest horror movie comes out. People clamor to pay for the privilege of feeling fear. The films promise heart-stopping suspense, and people love them.
Why is it that the same people avoid the completely free method of terror, one that is universally accessible?
If it is fear you want, simply stand up in a room and talk to people. Tired in a class? Ask a question that the entire room will hear and judge you for. It is a natural way to trip your fight-or-flight response.
Public speaking is even better than anything that man has contrived to play on our fears because it lacks a certain isolation. Roller coasters are comforting by comparison because you know that it will work the same whether you are on it or not. Horror movies will be the same no matter what you do, so they, too, lack the impetus to force you to perform.
Being the center of attention strips away any sense of anonymity. People see and judge you for every word that comes out of your mouth. You are branded by the first impressions of every person in the room. It is possibly the most vulnerable a person can be.
Such a big risk can only guarantee a bigger reward.
Nothing else in this world can hold a candle to the art of public speaking. Connecting to an audience is never easy, but in a world where our lives are defined by our trials, anything less feels empty.