A few years ago I was asked if I’d teach the art of public speaking to some people from an economically poor background. That day, I looked at a motley set of people and as I began to speak my heart sank; they looked anything but people who would one day get up and wax eloquent.
There was a shy schoolgirl who couldn’t even look directly at me, a housewife who nodded to everything I said but who I found out later didn’t know English well, a man who had a nervous twitch that began twitching as if to distract me, and others who looked equally incapable of such huge task.
“There is a word which starts with the letter ‘P’ which is the most important word in learning to speak in public,” I said, “What is it?”
“Persistence,” whispered the shy girl.
“You’re partially right,” I said kindly, “but that’s not the word I’m looking for just now!”
“Preparation,” said the twitching lip man.
“Again, very close, but not close enough!”
“Passion!” said the woman who could hardly speak English and I nearly hugged her.