new photo blog

i started this blog in 2006, and it's shifted along with my interests through the years. it's been witness to a lot of learning for me...

still, i feel that i need a home for my photography -- so from now on, i'll be posting my pictures on the journal on my reworked website. if you like my photos, you might decide to follow me there!

my first post is here -- check it out!

as for this blog, i'm not sure what will happen. i don't think i'm willing to let it go, and certainly i'll keep it as an archive, but i need some time to figure it out.

for those of you that pop in from time to time, thanks for the visits and encouragement.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

sam harris' silent crowd

overcoming your fear of public speaking.

i'm not often nervous at public speaking -- but that's because i teach moderate-sized classes almost daily and mostly know my stuff. i've had the opportunity to speak with larger audiences and a bit of slight nervousness passes quickly -- i mostly end up enjoying the experience.

still, i'm naturally shy and rarely talk when addressing more than 1 person in daily life.

i enjoy sam harris' talks. he seems to speak naturally and his words really do sink in. so i was surprised to read on the friendly atheist that he only recently overcame a lifetime fear of public speaking:


... i am not a born performer. nor am i naturally comfortable standing in front of a group of friends or strangers to deliver a message. however, i have always been someone who had things he wanted to say. this marriage of fear and desire is an unhappy one—and many people are stuck in it.

at the end of my senior year in high school, i learned that i was to be the class valedictorian. i declined the honor. and i managed to get into my thirties without directly confronting my fear of public speaking. at the age of thirty-three, i enrolled in graduate school, where i gave a few scientific presentations while lurking in the shadows of powerpoint. still, it seemed that i might be able to skirt my problem with a little luck—until i began to feel as though a large pit had opened in the center of my life, and i was circling the edge. it was becoming professionally and psychologically impossible to turn away.

the reckoning finally came when i published my first book, 
the end of faith. suddenly, i was thirty-seven and faced with the prospect of a book tour. i briefly considered avoiding all public appearances and becoming a man of mystery. had i done so, i would still be fairly mysterious, and you probably wouldn’t be reading these words.

i cannot personally attest to most forms of self-overcoming: i don’t know what it is like to recover from addiction, lose a hundred pounds, or fight in a war. i can say from experience, however, that it is possible to change one’s relationship to public speaking.


i rewatched harris' talk at TED and detected no nervousness.  his emotional moment when discussing honor killings was very human and added to the texture of the talk. he connected to the audience, with healthy doses of both poignancy and humor. whatever he had to do to overcome his fear obviously worked.  read what he has to say here.

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