- First, she only speaks on what she feels passionate about
- Then, she writes out every word and tapes herself reading it 10 to 20 times
- Each time she tapes, she listens and makes changes in her writing
- She also practices in the mirror
- Next, she comes early to class and does 3 or 4 runthroughs in the empty room
- Then she sits silently and focuses on her breathing, until the other students begin arriving
- Finally, during the class, she practices with other students
After I shared this process with my current class, a student copied it and had immediate results. Also, this rigorous process reminds me of the heroine of my SPEAK WITH PASSION, SPEAK WITH POWER!, Anne Reeves, who also developed herself into an award-winning speaker by transforming her acute anxiety through hard work into mastery.
I wanted to know more. What were the connections between the little girl who was born in Iran and the Best Speaker EVER! in my classroom? Firouzeh's background offers some insights. Until she was 15, she lived with her family in Iran. Although surrounded by religious extremism, there was religious freedom in her home. She and her 2 sisters were expected to excel in school and in life. When revolution erupted, her family escaped to Spain and eventually Firouzeh relocated to Montreal, where she became fluent in French and completed university, then dental school. She shared that her education in Iran and in dental school involved much memorization - which, together with her lack of confidence in her self-taught English - explained why she wrote out her speeches first and then, through drilling, became one with her words (By the way, her English pronunciation and grammar are almost perfect and completely unobtrusive).
Other events - marriage, motherhood, divorce - brought her to Los Angeles and a path of deepening self-discovery and greater self-expression. As the black and orange butterfly had been led to Firouzeh, so she was led to my classroom and into a new future. Unpredictably, she is now taking a creative writing course and has volunteered to speak to my classes, which I intend to take her up on.
Shakespeare wrote, "Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature." Speaking IS action... which brings me back to the Tucson debate and points to another question:
When Firouzeh flapped her wings in Los Angeles, did it cause a hurricane in Egypt?