Jerry Seinfeld tells a joke about public speaking: “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
Nathan and I were asked to speak in our ward on Sunday. The 1st Counselor came up and said hello to me a few weeks ago. He then asked, “Where’s Brother Elkins?” I told him he was home sick and he said something like, “Oh is there a cold going around?” Not exactly. He pushed a little to know how sick Nathan was so I finally told him the diagnosis: pneumonia. Oh. He’s siiiick.
Quite sick. Not one of those, just curl up in bed with tissues, a bottle of water and Nyquil sicknesses.
After he found out about the “troubles” in the Elkins household, he then said, “Well, we were hoping you could speak in church in two weeks.” Good timing.
I said yes, because, I could come up with something in two weeks. As long as Nathan could breathe by then, I figured, no big whoop. You know… missionaries all learn how to speak from the pulpit in another language so after they come home, you ask them to speak in English and it’s easy peasy (once they remember how to speak in English again).
We were asked to speak on the October General Conference messages so Nathan got out that Ensign and he picked his talk. I read through it and didn’t know.
A few nights later, I read it again.
And then again a few nights later.
I just couldn’t find one that I liked.
Or maybe I was just waiting for some amazing inspiration, a light coming through the vertical blinds, shining on the page of the talk I’ve just turned to and a pleasant voice says, “This is the one.”
Last Saturday, I finally wrote my talk. Nathan put his together, with a few quotes he printed up* and took just two pages up to the pulpit with him. I can’t do that. I have to write it out or I get up there and start saying, “ummm” excessively.
Anyway, I just wanted to report to you, internet, that we gave our talks and people were very nice to come up and compliment us after. Some of the compliments even included specific parts that they appreciated so I knew they were actually paying attention. Quite kind of them.
I was glad when it was over because, even after years and years of giving talks in church, I was still nervous the closer it got to my turn. Thankfully, I spoke first because if I have to be the last speaker, I don’t listen to anything for the entire meeting.
I’m not average, though. I say this because, for the record, I’d rather be giving a eulogy than be the one in the coffin.
*I think they were quotes. He emailed me his talk to print up from my laptop because he had technical difficulties. In the email, though, he said “no peeksies” so I didn’t peek. Probably because I wouldn’t let him see my talk beforehand, or help me out either. I’m stubborn.