One of the favourite activities in my fear of public speaking course is asking my students to give a short speech on 'their best holiday ever'.
This helps them to connect with happy and relatable memories and to speak with more emotional impact.
Over the years, I've heard stories of working in chicken-shacks in Australia, haunted houses in Boston, and vampire-infested castles in Transylvania.
But the overwhelming story revolves around scuba-diving. Almost one in six of my students has a 'best holiday ever' diving in Egypt, Thailand or on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.
The stories range from heart-broken singletons (one of the best stories I ever told) to loved-up young couples who are seeking thrills in and out of the water, to the debut septuagenarian catching a second breath of an exciting life.
Diving from my own extensive experience in Greece, the Middle-East and Central America is one of life's emerging and most exciting sports. It's a pastime that people get hooked on so easily. With the ever-developing list of qualifications and new experiences and locations available, it has eclipsed skiing (a long-time friend of mine) as the sport of choice for the youngish, freeish and singlish.
It's not a surprise. Though the coral-reefs are receding, the underwater beauty nevertheless has a magical attraction. Now is a good time to learn scuba diving while there's still something remarkable to experience under the waves.
That feeling of spaciousness, freedom and contact with the wonders of nature is enthralling. The water clarity, the light, the sense of escapism captivates. As thrills go, it's one of the purest. It's a genuine eye-opening encounter with the beauty and elegance of the deep.
Sadly, too many of my students' speeches end with impassioned pleas to end man's devastation of sea-life.
For some, this is their first opportunity to discuss it and vent their anger. They have seen, witnessed, observed something breathtakingly beautiful and it's their desire to maintain the world's precious eco-systems for future generations to admire. For many, this is a cathartic experience. Too often we feel that our words hold no impact on our friends and colleagues.
Come on of my public speaking courses and you will find that it's one of the greatest stories ever told.
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