I read once that 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 the day this happened.

This story took place 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 illustrations.

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.

The audience understood me.

They got me.

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 story.

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? I stepped back behind the podium and looked at my outline for inspiration and discovered that I only had the word “conclusion” written down.

Oh no…..

You got this KariAnne, I said to myself.  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.

Suddenly my amazing inspirational words of wisdom just up and left the building.

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 came out.

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.

Have you ever had this happen to you? Have you ever frozen on stage? If so then you understand. You get it.

It was so overwhelming.

In that moment I wasn’t nearly as amazing as I was in first grade. Not even close.

Truth?

That brief, terrifyingly-awkward-brain-blanking minute on stage taught me several things:

  1. Never just write “conclusion” to finish off a speech.
  2. Have a story ready in case of emergencies.
  3. Ask an audience a question until you can get back on track.
  4. When all else fails bring up the Nina and the Pinta and the Santa Maria.

Oh and one more thing—flying?

After that speech?  I’d take a jet plane any day of the week.

PS  This post was brought to you by my tiny-used-to-be-Christmas houses. They are here for moral support. It takes a village to write this blog. 🙂

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

Comments

  1. Image for Diane Diane

    Love , love, love. I was a teacher so that happened most often on parent night. Ha. Love the houses , does that lady have an online shop. Look forward to your new books and your email dail. Keep it up.

  2. Image for Kimberly Snyder Kimberly Snyder

    I had to read this post ! It made me smile! While I have a very hard time imagining that you were speechless ( :) ) , I am happy to know that I am not the only one that has happened to! I had to MC an event in high school for a county wide 4-H event...... it was dreadful..... I was so very far from amazing it is a wonder I ever spoke in front of an audience again! Thank you for sharing your experience and how you managed to save the presentation!! You are AMAZING!!

  3. Image for Judy Young Judy Young

    I can’t say that I’ve shared your experience with a speech because I am not at all keen on public speaking and never have been. I’m retired now anyway so I’m sure those days are behind me! I do however LOVE all those little houses and hope to make a trip to McKinney soon to find one or two for myself. You never cease to entertain us KariAnne. You ARE amazing!!!!

  4. Image for Kris Kris

    Aww, I can feel your tension. I teach Sunday School to teens (and, occasionally, adults), and sometimes in the middle of my presentation, rogue thoughts run through my brain. Things like, "Who put you in charge? You don't know what you're talking about and doing this isn't your 'thing', and your boots really need to be polished, and .... ". I love your idea of asking the audience a question. Thanks for the tip. BTW, good to know that you are human. 😊

  5. Image for Patricia Patricia

    I have to say, and I know I said all the time, you are an amazing, amazing storyteller. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the meaning you’re a hutch looks beautiful and I love those little houses. The artist is amazing. As well as the storyteller is amazing. Have a sparkling weekend, my friend. 🙂

  6. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    Oh, sweet friend! My heart froze with you as I read it. We have all been there. Thankful for the reminder. My mind is so full that it laps and leaves moments of amazement often…with me standing to find my words again. It does take a village.

  7. Image for Regina Rudd Merrick Regina Rudd Merrick

    I am a wimp when it comes to public speaking, but if I have a great slide show to go with it, it helps. Until you’re the elementary school librarian tasked with putting together a program for Dr. Seuss’s 100th birthday, attended by the entire school body and the central office staff, and your laptop - the one you have the program saved on instead of a flash drive because flash drives were itty bitty back then- decides to die. Right there, as it were, “in front of God and everybody.” I feel your pain, friend! 😘

  8. Image for Becky Becky

    Oh dear!! That sounds like me! Public speaking is definitely not my strength. Ending with a story or asking questions is such a great idea! I’m definitely putting that tip in my toolbox. ❤️

  9. Image for Vicki Vicki

    I'm there with you. I froze giving a retirement seminar when I totally lost my voice -- nerves! I loved working with people one-on-one, but hated being in front of a crowd. You are so amazing in every way -- keep it up -- you inspire us every day! Love your posts!

  10. Image for Teddee Grace Teddee Grace

    I always had stage fright. My mother seemed intent on ignoring my fear and regularly "booked" me to sing or recite a poem at the church Children's Day. I started taking piano lessons when I was six and at my first recital, at which we were allowed to use our music, I sat down at the piano, placed my music, "To a Wild Rose," yes, I still remember and still have the sheet music, on the music stand, put my hand on the keys, looked up and the sheet music was absolutely blank. It was a terrifying moment. I just sat there, taking in huge gulps of air. Eventually I got my sight back and was able to play the piece, but assume this was a brief moment of hysterical blindness brought on by sheer terror. I still have stage fright!

  11. Image for Corine Corine

    Well, that is just a great story! In my career I did a lot of public speaking and meeting-leading. And then ol' menopause hit and I couldn't think of words to save my soul. Microsoft Notebook came in handy with preprinted notes and agendas. Ugh. You are a smart cookie ending your presentation like that!

  12. Image for Michele M. Michele M.

    Oh gulp! That had to be hell for you - but seriously? You are famous on your blog for telling us we are amazing. That was your inner cheerleader and supportive self coming through. What group doesn't appreciate that, right? But oh maaaaan I feel for you. I am with your houses on this one. Thx for the humanity of expressing real life. My story is as bad. I used to be a bank manager years ago, and was having a Grand Opening event at a new branch with a new staff and lots of very important people in attendance. I do NOT like public speaking - I am great with about 20 teaching things I love like how to properly host a formal afternoon tea party, or tea party etiquette, or how to brew tea, or why loose leaf is soooooooooo much better than tea bags.......but not work or club related large group speaking. I already know my brain's fear doesn't allow it. I never took speech at school (wish I had!) and I always freeze up. So there I was having to introduce our Corporate President and my District Manager to the public, and omgosh, KA, I forgot the President of the bank's name. I am up there and my brain malfunctioned - it was so traumatizing I can't even remember how I handled it. I think my assistant helped me. We are still great friends to this day. But yeah. My career may have ended that day - it didn't and all went well but never ever- not once- have I volunteered to do any kind of public speaking again. Funny because I can SING in front of the entire world - but don't get me to agree to introducing anyone because I will go as blank as you must have felt. Bless your heart. It's such a terrible memory, isn't it? Hugs.

  13. Image for Susan Susan

    I can imagine how awkward that must have been, but hey, out of it came a great story with lessons for us all! Thank you for sharing! The houses are adorable by the way!

  14. Image for Jodena Beale Jodena Beale

    Kari Anne, you knew at that moment, your own words would rein true. Everyone left the show still knowing you are amazing. I know I repeat your words to myself at troubled times. So, next time you find yourself stumped, frozen just say to yourself, what you assure all of us many times, "you got this".

  15. Image for Dee Turk Dee Turk

    I wanted to know, what was the conclusion to your story from the retreat? 😂 Seriously, I was singing in concert, (not just a guest singer) the whole concert was me singing and talking, and I forgot the words to the Lord Prayer!!!😱 I recouped, then forgot the words to a special request, and had to pull people out of the audience to sing along with me. They loved it, and I was saved! I'm thankful the Lord still uses us in our human fralties, and all our weaknesses to glorify his name.😄❤️ Love this sweet houses, your beautiful styling, and heart.

  16. Image for JC JC

    Yup...been there. 😵‍💫 I taught women's ministry for years. But, here is the thing. They have no idea what your conclusion was suppose to be, so, for all they know, that was it, well until they read this post. 😄 I bet your talk was amazing! I bet it was inspirational and funny, real, and most importantly loving! I would not be so hard on yourself! You're a Rockstar with or without a conclusion!!

  17. Image for Jo Jo

    Been there - nothing worse than that feeling. Loved your story. You are amazing!! And I also love the little houses!

  18. Image for Patricia Patricia

    Public speaking terrified me in elementary through high school. I’m a late bloomer and fortunately found my groove in the working world. While I have never frozen, I have dreamt of this with anxiety for decades. Bravo to you for managing your exit and especiallly for sharing.

  19. Image for Celeste Celeste

    I have been singing for most of my life, it's one of the first memories I have. Christmas singing Away In a Manger at three in front of the church holding up my dress in a tight grip right in front of the whole congregation. My stage fright hit a high in college as a voice major when I had to sing for judges at the end of the semesters. I thought after all these decades that I was mostly over the fear, but recently I was asked to sing the national anthem at an outdoor event. During sound check I was great, but when I looked out at the crowd as I sang, I began to have a mouthful of saliva. It was either drool down my chin, spitting on the stage, or swallow. Right in the middle of the song. Missed words, big gulp. It's not like you can fudge the national anthem. I mean everyone knows the melody and words. Ever since then I just can't get up the courage to sing that particular song again. I've been asked twice, but fortunately one time I had Covid (isn't that a weird thing to say) and the next I just said I was too busy. I don't know why but I love to sing but hate for people to look at me singing. I have nightmares about being on stage and not knowing what the words are to the song. So I get that deer in the headlights feeling you sometimes can get on stage. I bet you are a great speaker and this was a rare fluke.

  20. Image for Karen B. Karen B.

    Keri Anne, I would have given you enthusiastic applause in support of that moment. A lot of us have had this happen when speaking to a group and I would have wanted you to feel the love at that moment. Still, I understand how terrifying that can feel. You have a wonderful personality that comes across the page, I can only imagine how fun it is to hear you in person. I always appreciate your fun stories. xo, Karen B.

  21. Image for Kim Domingue Kim Domingue

    Hi! I’ve been a long time subscriber to your blog and, just recently, noticed that you had disappeared from my inbox. Well, I panicked! I searched my junk folder and my trash folder and every other place that I could think of but you were nowhere to be found. I KNEW with absolute certainty that I’d not unsubscribed…why on earth would I have done something so silly? And, to make matters worse, my flu infected brain couldn’t remember the name of your blog no matter how many times I banged my head against the wall trying to dislodge that important piece of information! (insert image of 64 year old woman throwing a hissy fit while hacking and coughing and turning red in the face) Anywho, I ran across you being referenced in another blog and screamed “Hallelujah!!!” (freaking out the cat and the dog who each bolted for opposite corners of the house) and promptly raced over here to resubscribe. Another blogger that I read wrote a blog post the other day stating that suddenly people on his email list were no longer receiving his emails…some sort of issue with mail chimp? So I wondered if you used the same service and perhaps some of your subscribers had suddenly been dropped out of the loop like me?

  22. Image for Esther Esther

    I would love the info on the lady that does the houses. Your collection is awesome and I always enjoy your stories!

  23. Image for Marti Marti

    So funny that we all share a very similar experience. I recently retired as a high school advanced placement teacher. I always enjoyed lecturing & engaging with the students but hated the Back to School nights with the parents … until I stopped over preparing my presentations & let them be more natural, then I truly was amazing😂

  24. Image for MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA) MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA)

    KariAnne, you are ABSOLUTELY AMAZING -- and loved by all of us. Thanks for sharing this experience with us, I know your "conclusion" was difficult for you BUT you made it work and made your audience feel that they were amazing, too! Well done! I know that your audience just knew what an amazing and gifted gal and speaker you are! You just keep on being your precious and wonderful self! You are so loved and so special!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.