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Speaking Up Without Freaking Out: Matt Abrahams (Transcript)

Matt Abrahams at TEDxPaloAlto

Full text of innovative educator Matt Abrahams’s talk: Speaking Up Without Freaking Out at TEDxPaloAlto conference. In this talk, he offers practical solutions to handle communication anxiety and to confidently share our ideas and stories.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Panic. Embarrassed. Exposed.

No, that’s not how I’m right now, mostly. Those are the feelings I had as a 14-year old boy.

On the very first day of high school, my English teacher, Mr. Meredith had each of us stand up and introduce ourselves. When class was over, he called me over and said, “Hey Matt, you’re really good at this talking thing. I need you on Saturday to show up at the speech contest.”

Doing as I was told, I prepared a 10-minute presentation on karate. It was something I was passionate about and it was pretty easy to do.

Now, that cold September Saturday morning, when I showed up, I was shocked. The room was much larger than I had expected. There were many more people there: my friends; my friends’ parents who were serving as judges; and the girl I had a crush on.

At that moment, I felt tremendous anxiety.

In the first 10 seconds of my 10-minute presentation, my life changed forever.

You see, I started my presentation with a karate kick. I was told to do this, because it would engage the audience and get their attention. But because of my anxiety, I forgot to put on my special karate pants. You know, the ones with a little extra room down there, you get where this is going. I ripped my pants from belt loop to zipper.

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