To the best of my memory the very first time I was ever asked to speak without notes on a subject was in high school during the inter-house music and drama festival. The scheduled speaker grew cold feet and I was asked to speak, I forget the subject but am pretty sure I still have the certificate because guess what, I won in that category.
As life has progressed I have had numerous opportunities to speak in public. And sadly along the way I lost the art of speaking impromptu on any subject. I now prefer to research, to study, to write down my speaking notes and follow them through on d-day. That has become my comfort zone, the place I have been flourishing in for most of my adult life.
Well, last year I met a wonderful lady by the name Valentine and she challenged me to go back to my roots; public speaking without notes, speaking from the heart. You can imagine my reaction, I froze. How was I supposed to do this. The subject matter was the Kenya National Anthem, one of my current pet subjects. I can honestly speak about the Kenya National Anthem in my sleep but for some reason being asked to actually do it sent me on panic mode. I began the preparation process, writing down key points, doing several recordings of myself making the actual presentation and so and so forth.
Then came d-day and feelings of insecurity crept in and almost literally paralyzed me. I had my summarized notes that I was reading through and trying to stay calm through out the day. Valentine was launching her wonderful initiative Dada Sphere and I was one of the speakers. Words she had spoken to me over the months of preparation kept ringing in my head. I should relax, as far as she was concerned I am an authority in matters of the National Anthem. But nooo, I still felt out of place. Like I didn’t belong to this league. I looked around at my fellow speakers, women of valour, accomplished madams in their various fields and I cowed down.
And it was my turn to speak: I walked up the steps, looked at the crowd and froze. Then I saw the smiles, there is just something about a smile and I opened my mouth and never stopped talking until I said my three favorite words: LEARN| STUDY| BECOME
After the talk, I relaxed and as I listened to the other speakers and looked around the room I asked myself why I was afraid? And I realised that I was trying to be everything but myself; to fit in into a mold that was actually a creation of my imagination. So I smiled and told myself, this is the first of many; the next one will definitely be much easier! Indeed, I am an African Woman Rising.