In some traditions pupils of 2 or 3 years standing are asked to give a brief talk to the public on some aspect of the teaching.
Most are reluctant: they feel their progress does not merit it. However, when told this is part of training they are ready to try.
Once such pupil was told to prepare by taking lessons in public speaking for 3 months. The instruction jarred on him and he complained to a senior:
“To take lessons like that would make me feel like a ham actor, unnatural and insincere.”
The senior looked at the vigorous young man before him and said:
” I’ve seen you once or twice working out at the gym. He ordered Tall-as-you-can and you all stood on tiptoe and stretched your fingers towards the roof. Then he shouted for Small-as-you-can and you squatted down with your head between your knees, hugging your shins. Then he ordered ten Tall-as-you-can, ten Small-as-you-can alternately as-fast-you-can. It was quite a sight, but it made me realise why you all looked so fit.”
“Now when you go to work or shopping, you don’t do Tall-as-you-can or Small-as-you-can in the street. In fact you never think of them then. But because you have done them in the gym your step now is brisk and energetic.
In the same way you can take lessons in speaking which will enliven your delivery but you don’t think of those lessons when you are speaking to the public. The improvements will be natural to you when you speak and there is no artificiality or insincerity about it.”
© 1999 Trevor Leggett