When I attended St. Joseph’s School in Scotia, Sister Lourdes Marie picked me (a mere sixth grader) to compete against eighth graders in a Catholic youth group debate in Albany. The topic: Teen-aged Freedoms and Responsibilities.
I wrote out my initial speech and delivered it flawlessly. When it came time for the extemporaneous rebuttal: I froze. In front of everybody. In tears, my father took me out for a walk on Central Avenue and gave me a piece of gum.
Since then, I have never given a speech again without at least some kind of talking point notes.
I give many talks now, before community groups, on the radio, to classes. I try to keep it light, tell stories from my experiences, shed some insight into politics and save room for questions – the best part.
Robert McCarthy, a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, is a political reporter for the Buffalo News.