By Michelle Chung, MA
Whether it’s your first or last year speaking at the Blue Ridge Mountain, every delegate attending CONA
is an intellectual, well-spoken, capable individual with the power to give their opinion with conviction and passion. However, in the nerves that may come with public speaking, it’s important to remember certain tips and tricks. Riley Ford of the Virginia Delegation recalls her first time giving a speech for her proposal. “The first time I ever spoke, I was shaking like a leaf. I wrote down my speech and my hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t read what I had written…But after that first time, it got a lot better.” She remembers focusing on that fact.
Hundreds of delegates from all over the country come to CONA for a common reason: to speak and debate their proposals, so it’s imperative that each delegate takes the initiative to speak and make their time worth it. Mabel D’Souza of the Delaware Delegation reminds delegates to “practice, practice, practice. If you practice what you’re going to say, write it down, and know you’re confident in your speaking ability, that’s the best you could be.”
Lastly, delegates shouldn’t worry about making perfect speeches that are entirely articulate or look well-written on paper. While speakers should strive to use public speaking skills to get their point across, the point of CONA is to hear varying perspectives, voice our own thoughts, and form an opinion on different proposals that could change the nation. D’Souza, as a first-time committee chair, just hopes her delegates enjoy the CONA experience and the Blue Ridge Spirit. “I just hope my delegates in my committee have as much fun as they can. I’m a new committee chair as well, so I’m just as nervous as they are in how I’m going to present … Delegates should be relaxed and confident enough to be able to present their ideas without facing challenges or struggles like nervous breakdowns or people ridiculing them.”
CONA is an open, trusting, and welcoming place where all voices matter, and there is no doubt that every delegate will do a fantastic job during their committees, regardless of any nerves.