When we start to learn any new thing, we never advance steadily or improve gradually. We do it by sudden jerks, and by abrupt starts. Then we remain stationary for a time, or we may even slip back and lose some of the ground we have previously gained. These periods of stagnation, or retrogression, are well known by all psychologists; and they have been named “plateaus in the curve of learning.”
Students of public speaking will sometimes be stalled for weeks on one of these plateaus. Work as hard as they may, they cannot get off it. The weak ones give up in despair. Those with grit persist, and they find that suddenly, over-night, without their knowing how or why it has happened, they have made great progress. Abruptly, they find that they have gotten the knack of the thing and have acquired naturalness and force and confidence in their speaking.
In giving a speech, you may always experience some fleeting fear, some shock, some nervous anxiety the first few moments you face an audience. But if you just persevere, you will soon eradicate everything but this initial fear; and that will be a very natural initial fear, and nothing more. After the first few sentences, you will have control of yourself and you’ll be speaking positively and pleasantly.
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