LAURA REID IS
The Speech Slayer
Do you believe in ghosts?
One night, around 2am, when I was six, I awoke to the sound of the radiator in my bedroom clanking, as if the temperature had suddenly dropped.I turned over in bed and saw a girl standing there, staring at me. Her eyes were like a dead fish. Murky, watercolor eyes. My body froze; my heart boomed in my ears.
Then I had the most terrifying realization - this is not a dream.
The only movement I dared was to blink… she was still there. Then she began to sing. Her song was only one word. She repeated the word over and over as she walked alongside my bed, “Laura… Laura.”
Even though it’s been decades, that night still haunts me.
It’s believed that what we give our energy to will expand and grow. If we are lucky, it blooms and flourishes.
But what if we give all our energy to fear?
As a child, I didn’t know why I saw that ghost, but it makes more sense today. I grew up with a severe stutter that made speaking nearly impossible. It was especially difficult for me to say my name. Because of that, I became deeply ashamed, developed a paralyzing fear of public speaking and social anxiety. I felt like a coward, terrified to be asked the most benign question, “What’s your name?”
As I grew up, I learned how to hide who I was, and because of that, I began to believe I was worse than a coward... that I was a fraud. The amount of effort it took for me to get through a networking event, job interview, or even a staff meeting at work without an anxiety attack was exhausting. That exhaustion and anxiety became normal for me. Eventually, instead of healing what was asking to be healed within me, I turned to a quick fix, anxiety medication. Although the medication helped numb my anxiety, it also numbed something less easily defined. It was as if a part of what made me, me... was sacrificed. And interestingly, I was ok with that; I was ok with not being me.
Hiding who I was and being unseen became my superpower; in fact, I became so skilled at it... I became like a ghost.
Then one day, I discovered the most unlikely place of refuge…
A stage and a microphone.
How did I get up on that stage? I walked, of course. (Did I mention I’m also a stand-up comic?)
One day I walked past a flyer for a storytelling competition. I don’t know what made me notice it or why I stopped and stared at it. But looking back, I believe it was a sign from a higher source; in this case, it was a literal sign. And it appeared to me at the exact moment I was meant to see it. Then, without even thinking about it right away, I knew what to do. I entered the contest.
Have you ever had a moment like that? Where it was the scariest thing you’d ever done, but leaning into that fear changed everything?
I can see now how that moment, reading that flyer, even led me to be where I live today, doing the work I do, and even finding true love.
I’ll never forget that feeling of not only being on the stage but of how many people came up to me afterwards, congratulating me on winning the contest and, more importantly, what my story meant to them. I’ve been on many stages since, and that’s still the most thrilling part for me - getting to know that what I shared was meaningful to someone, helped someone.
Here’s the thing: I want to say this directly to YOU. Whoever you are, whatever you do, please know this is true, and I want you to hear it.
When you speak and share your story, you MAY feel vulnerable, and it CAN be scary, but when you are in the act of it and aligned with your message and story, there is nothing to fear.
You’re free. You’ve become a conduit.
You’re not only connecting…you ARE the connection.
Today, I am on a mission to help others find the speaking confidence they desire and never let themselves become like a ghost.
Connect with Laura
You have a powerful story to share. Connect with Laura
to share your story, and slay your stages.