I couldn’t tell you the title of the book or what I was wearing that day…but I do remember a 17-year old Dave Rhodes gripping the podium in English class, trying to get through an oral book report…I just wanted it to end!!! Public speaking, one of the biggest fears for most people.

Now I won’t claim to be a professional public speaker, I’m not…but I’m not afraid of it anymore. Why? Because I’ve taken advantage of opportunities. Airman Leadership School (ALS) was the first big one I think. This is where I decided it best to memorize my formal speeches (not recommended for all) but I practiced that speech probably 50 times. My youngest was strapped to his car seat or something but I’d put him on the couch and practice to him. Then I became an instructor and went through another school…more speeches plus 3 years of standing in front of ~10 students. Next was Officer Training School…very similar to ALS with the exception of the Wing Brief Off. I had the opportunity to present my briefing to the entire school AND faculty on stage in full service dress. Over the next 16 years I gave many more briefings, speeches…you name it, but the more I did it the more comfortable I got. Yeah, I still was nervous before a retirement speech but now standing in front of 400+ people doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

The point is this…at 17 I would have never imagined that putting Public Speaking on my resume would be a thing. Every time the Air Force gave me a chance to get better at it I gave it all I had. I prepared, I practiced…A LOT, and then I just had fun with it and tried to be myself. Do the same thing…doesn’t have to be public speaking, but when an opportunity is placed in front of you…give it 100%. You never know where it will lead you! Have a great day!

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