Amid all the things to look forward to in a new year, one of the biggest for FFA students is the start of speaking competitions.
“The meeting room will come to order. We are now holding a meeting of the Shasta FFA Section. Mr./Mdm. Vice President, are all officers at their stations?”
From Parli Pro, to Job Interview, Prepared and Creed, the moment we’ve been waiting has arrived.
Many of us couldn’t be more excited about taking on another year of speaking competitions. Others, whether a newbie FFA member or a freshman FFA student, we may be new to the speaking world and not quite ready to jump in just yet.
From my own FFA experience, I regret not being involved in the Creed speaking competition. I was too intimidated to jump into Creed speaking because I was a young little freshman with a lack of self-confidence. “Jump in” should really be the motto of the FFA. If you think about it, you have such little time. It may not feel like it initially, but four years goes by a heck of a lot faster than you think it could.
As a freshman in high school the Creed is one of the best competitions to get involved in. Most of our ag teachers make it a part of the class coursework, and it is a requirement to memorize anyhow, so why not go on to compete for it? Don’t let those nerves get to you: Jump in and try it out. It may be nerve-wracking, but trust me, not one person in the room is laughing or judging your speaking ability. It is all in your head.
I was a Job Interview contestant, and as a young high school student I felt that this was the best speaking competition for me to be involved in. I saw that being able to write and develop a cover letter and resume would help me obtain a job in the future. I participated in the Job Interview contest for three years in my FFA chapter. Each year, the goal for me was to try and get a little bit farther in competitions than the year before.
You have your insecurities walking into the room and stepping onto the stage, and are feeling extremely vulnerable. Well guess what, you are not alone! There are thousands and thousands of other blue corduroy and corn gold jacket-wearing FFA students in the same position as you. Just as nervous, just as anxious to “get this thing over with” and get back in the van for the critique from their ag teacher and the long ride home.
Here’s a bit of advice from a pro on how to calm the nerves before a big speech or speaking competition. We’ve all heard this before, but the first thing to do is envision everyone in the room in their underwear. OK, I’m sure you don’t believe me, but actually it worked for me! It gives you a good smile that helps to distract the nerves from taking over your speech. The truth is, we’ve all been there and the best thing to do to calm those nerves is to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and find a way to ease the tension.
If envisioning the crowd in their underwear doesn’t work for you, then go to your happy place. Your happy place should be somewhere that you feel most yourself and free to comfortably be you. You imagine yourself giving the speech in your mirror at home like you’ve done countless times before, speaking slowly with confidence and grace, not missing a single detail. Once you are there, you should have that warm fuzzy feeling of achievement. You hear your name being called, open your eyes and just like that the nerves are gone, and it is your time to shine.
Be proud of yourself for putting yourself out there and trying. Don’t show up to competition and assume that the first-place prize is yours. You won’t always come in first or be number one. It takes a lot of practice and patience to get that top spot you’ve been dreaming for. Anything is possible if you persist and work hard to be the best you can be. Go out there and speak — speak from who you are and never forget to speak your little heart out and just jump in.