Sheehan overcomes common fear in remarkable way
IRON RIVER—The fear of public speaking is widespread. In research published by the National Institute of Mental Heath in 2013, the percentage of people facing this phobia was reported as 74 percent.
In fact, the fear of public speaking is often ranked higher than the fear of death, which is what led Jerry Seinfeld to joke that at a funeral people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.
West Iron County High School junior Molly Sheehan considered herself among those with the condition called “glossophobia.” But she didn’t just accept the psychological constraint, but stood up to her anxiety in a remarkable way.
Sheehan entered the M. Jean Jokipii Memorial Speech Contest sponsored by the Iron Mountain-Kingsford branch of the American Association of University Women on Jan.14 at Bay Community College in Iron Mountain. And lo and behold, Sheehan won the darn thing.
“A long time ago, I started crying when I had to do a speech because I was so nervous,” Sheehan said. “I’ve had a few bad experiences, so I kind of wanted that to not be a thing anymore. I thought that if I did the speech and did well on it then I could (overcome the fear.)”
The contest required students to write an original five- to six-minute speech on the topic, “How to be a change maker against bullying, sexual harassment and violence.” Sheehan first became aware of the contest when her English teacher Michelle Malmquist informed the class of the specifics of the contest back in early December.
Sheehan decided she wanted in and spent part of her holiday break writing the speech, memorizing it and working on her delivery. She said would go off into her room and whisper the speech to herself and then ask her mother or stepfather - Jill and Gerard Orvis - to listen to her deliver and time the speech.
Sheehan did this several times, editing her speech as she went along. She continued to practice the weekend prior to presenting it. By the time she showed up at Bay, she knew she had put in the time.
“I was actually very confident when I got up there and gave the speech,” Sheehan said. “I was still nervous, but because I knew what I was doing, I was confident.”
The contest was held in a classroom, with