The story of 10 minutes, two public-speaking notecards and one epic failure.

By Emma Eidsvoog

Emma Eidsvoog sat in her parents’ red station wagon and wished that it was tomorrow. Wished that her presentation wasn’t today and that she wasn’t ten minutes late for Public Speaking 101. 

Failure-02
Illustration by Toan Vo

The assignment was simple: a persuasive speech. The topic was travel, and she was to play devil’s advocate, convincing her classmates that world travel posed physical, economic and cultural problems.

At 8 a.m. she had hope. She skipped her other classes to blaze through the speech. She frantically filled a Google Document on her brother’s borrowed laptop while the 1 p.m. deadline loomed close above.

At 10 minutes to one, Eidsvoog and her mom, Jody, hopped in the car. Jody drove as Eidsvoog wrote her speech out on 3” by 5” notecards during the 10-minute ride to Milaca High School. As they pulled next to the curb, she faced her mom and told her she couldn’t do it. The class had already started, her speech was awful and she could already picture the laughter and cringes. 

“Of course she’s late,” they’d say. “Did she write this in 20 minutes?”

Failure-03
Illustration by Toan Vo

Eidsvoog asked her mom to call the teacher. She was sick and wouldn’t make it to class, a lie that was slowly becoming reality as the mixture of dread and energy drink mixed in her stomach. The thought of failure made her want to vomit. She thought of the person she could be if she only wrote the outline, did the research or just showed up on time.

The next day came and her teacher allowed her to give her speech for half of the 250 points it was worth. A failure in the gradebook. And a failure in her book. 

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