I read once where speaking in public was one of the five biggest fears in life.

I get it.

I understand.

But truth?

Just between us, I’m way more scared of a jet plane than a microphone.

I can remember the first time I spoke in public.  I stood up in first grade and gave a speech on Columbus and the new world and sailing the ocean blue and the Nina and the Pinta and the Santa Maria.  And when I finished?  I was ready for more.

Yes, please.

Give me an audience.  Give me a podium.  Give me a stage and a tube of red lipstick and I’m ready.

Always.  Never failing.  Ever ready.

Until.

Until I wasn’t.

Until amazing looked a million miles away.

It happened in front of a full house.

I was speaking to a group of ladies at a retreat about how to add more joy to your life.

I had my points.

I had my stories.

I had my moments when I paused for emphasis and looked into the eyes of the crowd and slowly delivered my awe-inspiring words of wisdom in a voice that was so mesmerizing it would make you shiver.

At the risk of stating the obvious—the speech was incredible.

Everyone was laughing and giggling and I was waving my hands and then occasionally lifting one in the air and wiggling my fingers to emphasize a point.

I had been speaking for about 20 minutes and I had one final point to make.

The best one.

The one that wrapped up the message in a bow and brought the entire talk together.

The one that would stand up and be counted and take names and inspire future generations to celebrate the joy for years to come.

Boldly, I stepped out from behind the podium.

Confidently, I stood there as I paused for dramatic emphasis.

I smiled a smile of encouragement and raised my hands and opened my mouth…and…and…and…

….AND FROZE.

My mind went blank.

Frantically, I searched for the point.  What came next?  What was the final, amazing, incredible, awesome, generation inspiring final point of this speech.

You got this KariAnne, I said.  Get it together.

I cleared my throat and raised my hands and tried again.

NOTHING.

I had nothing.

NOT A SINGLE, SOLITARY THOUGHT IN MY ENTIRE BRAIN.

Everyone stared at me expectantly.

Waiting.

Waiting for the brilliant pearls of wisdom that were just a moment away.

They stared at me.

I stared back at them.

As the silence stretched out longer, I could see people glancing at each other.  Wondering if I was going to continue.  Wondering what was next.

It felt like an hour passed.

Still NOTHING>

And then, from the middle of my blank brain, I thought of something.  Something I’d said before.  Something that might work.  I frantically grasped at that phrase that leapt into my consciousness with all the desperation of a passenger on a sinking ship.

I raised my hands and loudly blurted out “YOU ARE ALL AMAZING.”

Then I smiled, gathered up my blank brain, gave an awkward smile, nodded, grabbed my papers and hurried off the stage.

The audience sat in stunned silence and then gave a smattering of confused-yet-trying-to-be-supportive applause.

It wasn’t my finest hour.

Nope.

At that moment I wasn’t amazing.

Not even so close.

All that amazing looked a million miles away.

But in that brief, terrifyingly-awkward-brain-blanking minute on stage, I discovered a few things.

Never walk away from your notes before you are finished a speech.

Have a story ready in case of emergencies.

Ask an audience a question until you can get back on track.

And flying?  After that speech?  It didn’t look so scary anymore. 🙂

PS  This post was brought to you by my fall pumpkins.  They are here for moral support.

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Comments

  1. Image for Kris Kris

    I do that whenever I have to introduce people to each other. I can tell you all the details of their lives, but their names???? Nope! I'd like to say it's due to aging but I've had this problem for as long as I can remember.

    1. Image for NormaJean NormaJean

      Kris, I thought I was the only one with that particular problem. I can remember being taught all the do's and don'ts of making introductions in Junior High. We practiced, and practiced some more, until our instructor was satisfied that we could do it flawlessly. On the day we were tested, I performed my introductions perfectly. I thought, "I've got this." That was the first and the last time I was able to do it perfectly. From that moment to this, I stumble and stutter, and have great difficulty remembering the names of even my best friends and family members. I guess there are some things we are destined to never be amazing at Shhh, don't tell KarieAnne !

  2. Image for Debbie Debbie

    There comes a time in everyone's life when our brain is full then all of a sudden...it dumps. I've been there many times. It's never fun but when we realize it happens to everyone, it isn't so bad. Love you dear friend. May I take this time to say that I loved, loved, loved your book and you are MAZING!

  3. Image for Gail Alsobrook Gail Alsobrook

    Nothing is worse than freezing when it’s your turn . As I age,it is more and more dominant and it ruins the moment. I enjoy your blogs every day. In fact, I feel as if we are sitting at my kitchen table chatting! I hope you have continued success! GABA

  4. Image for Nancy Nancy

    I was always nervous about speaking in public. I sang and played the piano for many different audiences especially churches. No problem. But when I wanted to give the eulogies for both of my parents? No problem. Even my family couldn't believe how well I did. Divine intervention? Absolutely!! Karianne you aren't almost amazing, you are amazing! Total Aside: heehee. I loved your book and how you shared your faith throughout the book.❤️

  5. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Oh, KariAnne! I was right there with you...my heart hurt and I felt that freeze through and through. Thank you for sharing this. I am grateful that this one event didn't control your decisions and destiny. That's what is so endearing about you. Just when you get placed upon that awe inspiring pedestal---you remind us all that you are walking right beside us. And we are all better for it.

  6. Image for Terri Terri

    WOW... That moment when you absolutely do not know what you were about to say .. bye bye ... gone with the wind... that thought has left the Building....How does that happen ??? lololol... Experienced it more times than I care to admit!! Just finished your "Amazing" book !!!! Loved it ... will re-read for sure... Certainly a journey worth talking about for you and your family !!!!! Thank you for sharing with all of us....

  7. Image for Mary Ellen Mary Ellen

    I love this! And yep, I bet you have a bunch - a million at least - of us who have been there. My freeze was when I was hired by an ad company who had McDonalds as a client. I was performing a surprise ad campaign song for the McDonald's board- remember the song "Grab a broom and a mop . . . " ? Well I sang and danced my heart out for those stunned board members in suits - they thought I was just Thelma, a hotel waitress serving coffee, etc when suddenly I broke into the song - in the middle of the meeting!!! - on cue - but when I got to "tell me what does it mean?" I blanked! Totally froze. I sang it again - nothing. The poor guy I was singing to said in a panic - "I don't know, I don't know, tell me!" lol And then the final "At McDonald's it's clean" WHEW! and how awful was that!! Amazingly they approved the ad campaign.

  8. Image for Crystal Crystal

    When I was in my 20s and 30s I often sang at weddings. I was always careful to have my music (or words) with me at all times, expecially if it was a newer song, one that I may not have been familiar with....Not so much with the Lord's Prayer. Everyone wanted it, I sang it what seemed like a million times, I'd memorized the scripture as a young child, so no problem if I didn't have the music. Sooooo, I'm singing for a friend's wedding, I get through the first part and NOTHING! No words, NO CLUE WHAT COMES NEXT. And the problem with the Lord's Prayer is that everyone elso knows it so you can't make up anything. I don't remember what syllables came out of my mouth, but I did finally get back on track and finish the song. I was mortified. Never again did I get up without something written down. ASIDE: The wedding was taped and the family had it forever. I never have lived it down. :) But the couple have remained together and now have grandchildren.

  9. Image for MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!)

    On! KariAnne! I just love your posts! You are one amazing gal! I am just reading your book and It is absolutely fabulous! Thank-you for writing this book for us!

  10. Image for Ricki Jill Treleaven Ricki Jill Treleaven

    You are too, to cute! How in the world have I missed out on your blog? Katherine @ Katherines Corner "introduced" me to your blog, and I'm so happy she did. But look at the positive side of things....the audience had no clue about the acorns on your dinner table! ;P

  11. Image for Lynn Mosher Lynn Mosher

    LOL Thank you, pumpkins! Great story, KariAnne! I cannot imagine getting up to speak. I would have total blackout before I ever started! Thanks for your great stories! ❤

  12. Image for Jeanne Wright Jeanne Wright

    I thot I was going to leave a message, but it escaped into some deep techno chasm. I share the fear of public speaking. The plane, though? I don't fear it crashing into a mountain or body of water. What I do fear is falling asleep on the plane & drooling or snoring OR vomiting. Pretty sure I've done the first two, but know for a fact that I barfed. It was mortifying and memorable!

  13. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    I've never had your confidence in front of an audience. When I was six I had my first piano recital. Our teacher, a neighbor lady whose house my sister and I walked to across two pastures, one containing a huge Angus bull, never made us memorize our music. But when I sat down at the piano and placed my sheet music on the piano stand it was totally blank! I think it's called hysterical blindness. I remember sitting there heaving these huge breaths for what seemed like forever. I think it was an awkward amount of time because my mother told me afterward she was about ready to come up from the audience and rescue me. Finally the notes of "To a Wild Rose" appeared once more and I was able to finish my solo without a hitch. I still have that sheet music!

  14. Image for Michelle Michelle

    I love this! Because it happens to me all the time. Well, except for the brilliant speech in the beginning. I just skip to the part where the audience and I are staring at each other...until someone kindly leads me off the stage. Side note: I'm no longer receiving notices of new posts. :-( I've tried re-entering my email but that doesn't seem to work. Help!

  15. Image for Kay Kay

    Bless your heart! I suffer from brain freeze every day, especially the older I get. But I'm dying to know what it was you were actually going to say to your audience that day your brain froze. :)

  16. Image for sandi sandi

    Nothing happens w/out a reason---thank you for doing that---it makes the rest of the world feel a whole lot better. A person who can do everything & is as cute as you are would be a huge target for jealousy. Instead you are so human all of us can relate to you on some level. Self deprecation is also a fine art---and you do it well. 'love you!

  17. Image for Peg Peg

    I love your stories so much, and the way you write, that I'm scrolling so frantically to get to the end... and then I always have to scroll back to look at the pictures!! You're a treasure! So glad I found you!! xoxoxo

  18. Image for Marian@ CMShaw Studios Marian@ CMShaw Studios

    Oh my gosh ! I can 't remember which Muppet Movie it is, but there is a scene when Miss Piggy looks up from a prolonged awkward silence and says, "Ummm....goodbye!" And leaves. I can totally hear it in my head. So sorry that happened. I hope at least it's already funny when you tell people. And thanks for showing us that even a seasoned speaker can get tongue tied now and again. You are my favorite today, The Other Marian PS. You'll be happy to hear I started posting again. My first post back is about telling teens when to kiss and when to stop. Not that many of us parents really want to think about that.

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