Friday, March 13, 2009

Guest Lecturer

Last night I had the opportunity to be a guest lecturer on breastfeeding with a friend to a Women's Health class at BYU.

A little while after the Facebook controversy, I was contacted through the grapevine. The TA for the class saw my name in the paper and knew my friend through church and contacted her and invited us to speak. We were asked to talk about why we chose to breastfeed, community support, and a little about the Facebook issue.

I started with a quick (and as I re-think it, insufficient) run down of the Facebook nurse-in. I showed the removed picture, explained Facebook's strangely changing policies, the legal aspect of nipples and areolas being seen in public, and the problems that come to a society when breastfeeding is supposed to be hidden. Then we (my friend and I) discussed why we chose to breastfeed. And for me, that led to a discussion of LLL and community support. At the end, I also discussed "modesty" since it is BYU and I can do that there.

I think overall we did well. I also feel like I didn't have enough time to really cover the issues and looking back, I think of things I should have mentioned, but didn't. In fact, I didn't even get through all my notes that were in front of me. I also wanted to get pictures, but McKay was holding a sleeping baby the entire time I spoke, so he didn't get to take any pictures. Alas!

And while I have lots to say about what was said in the class discussion before and after we guest lectured, right now I would like to talk about the actual experience of speaking in front of people.

I've always wanted to be good at speaking in front of people. When I was a kid, I'd give lectures to myself while I cleaned the bathroom or did other chores.

When I was 10 I was terrified of and yet drawn to public speaking. I always felt that it was a skill I'd like to have, but my knees shook and my fingers twitched. I also was strong-minded and decided that the only way to fix my fear was to speak in front of people despite that fear. How does a 10 year old LDS girl to that? Testimony meeting.

The first Sunday of most months is called Fast Sunday and instead of prepared talks by assigned speakers, the pulpit in LDS churches is open to whomever wants to go up and "bear their testimony." I decided that if I wanted speaking practice, I'd take advantage of that. I was 10 and scared, and yet every Sunday , I forced myself up to the stand as the first speaker.

After about 2 and a half years, I learned something valuable: I wasn't ever going to get over my fear of public speaking, so I stopped. I was just as scared the 50th time as I was the first. I stumbled and stammered just as much every time. Then I learned about being more strong willed: the first Fast Sunday that I decided to NOT go up and be the first to the pulpit was hard. I sat in my seat, I gripped the edge of my pew and the chapel felt hot. It was as if 300 stares were trying to pry me out of my seat because, well, everyone expected me to go up there. But I didn't. So there! Ha!

I did speech team for 1 year in high school, just in case my fear of speaking was just a pre-teen thing. Nope. I floundered through talks and speeches in both church and school for the next decade. Sometimes I hit gold and spoke well, but mostly the only word to describe my efforts was FAIL. Even last summer, I spoke in church and floundered amazingly- in fact the only reason I actually got through that talk was a voice in my head saying, "You had a UC and you're afraid of 10 minutes of speaking?"

After the class was over last night, I realized something: I wasn't scared this time. I don't know what it was- but I was comfortable up there. Now whether or not this will be indicative of future speaking engagements, I don't know. But it was nice.

(photo from wardomatic)


  1. Congratuulations on successfully getting through your speech. Maybe... previously, you didn't have a topic you were so excited to share?

  2. Congrats! Glad it went well. I have never felt nervous getting up in front of people, and from what I understand, that is a nice thing to have.

  3. Heather, you guys were great thanks again for coming, I spoke with several of the students today and they really enjoyed listening to you and Jillynn last night. Thanks for promoting breastfeeding!

  4. What a great opportunity to have!!

    I know your feelings about public speaking :) I know them well... For a second you made me feel like I should give testimony meeting a go :D

    great post!

  5. I can't relate to the public speaking fear (a decade's worth of theater experience as well as some time doing competitive speech in HS). But I know that in regular day to day conversations I get all nervous and uncomfortable if the topic is something I don't want to discuss or if I'm not being honest with myself/my audience. Maybe this topic just inspires you enough that you forget to be afraid?

  6. I am so glad that it went so well! I wish that I could have been there.


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