It was because of some rabbits that I first developed an aversion to public speaking. Our class pets were a pair of light brown and white rabbits. Every weekend a different child took them home, in two big cages. I was supposed to use my experience with the rabbits for a dreaded Monday morning oral sharing time called “show and tell,†standing alone at the front of the classroom.

Why was I so reluctant to speak on that fateful Monday?

After school on the Friday before, my mother and I put the rabbits, in their cages, by the back porch of our home. I grew up in a tiny town in Massachusetts where no one locked their doors. Saturday morning, I went out to feed our guests, with carrots and celery, and opened the cages.

To my horror, both rabbits jumped out and in seconds, scurried under the porch, way in the back, unreachable. I called out to my parents who came running, and no one could entice those &^*&#&* rabbits to return to their cages. I was mortified and cried inconsolably for a while, but my parents assured me that they’d soon get hungry and not to worry. Saturday passed into night, and there were no rabbits to pet or feed.

By late Sunday afternoon I was a real mess. It was truly a seven-year-old’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, my parents kept going outside to wave carrots and celery stalks under the porch. By Sunday evening, just before I went to bed, the rabbits were safely back in their cages.

But Monday morning, standing before my classmates, I started crying when I had to tell about the weekend. And that was all I could do — cry. As you might expect, I was totally ashamed of myself. Looking back, I realize that the runaway rabbit crisis stayed with me for a long, long time. What may have caused your anxiety about speaking?

*Excerpted from Public Speaking for the Genius by Anne B. Freedman, coming soon. Save 25% with your pre-publication order now! Just click here. 


Want your next presentation or speech to go better than ever? I invite you to watch my video, a live recording of “How to Avoid the Five Biggest Speaking Mistakes That Leaders Make,†presented to the Florida International Bankers Association – FIBA Chats recently in Miami. Just click here.

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