About 6 years ago, I was a very yound soldier, serving as a warden at Prison 6, Company C. For those of you who aren't familiar with the inner details of Israel's prisons, Prison 6 is a military prison for IDF soldiers. Reasons for getting to prison range from showing up with unshined boots to drug use to selling arms. Company C was where the more dangerous inmates where held. I didn't get the people who forgot to shine their shoes, I got the drug dealers and stollen arms sellers.
Anyway, back to the story, I was (and am) a geek, probably a nice person, being thrown into that situation was very low on my "Things To Do" list. Nevertheless, the IDF, in his great wisdom, has decided to put me there, so I had to go. (Later, I was in a position when I had to make the same decision, that wisdom turned out to be purely arbitrary).
About three weeks after I arrived at the prison, I was at my Sergeant's office, and he was busy flirting with the nurse that came to check on the inmates. It was about noon, which meant that it was time for the noon Count. Life in prison mostly revolve around those Counts, and they are held as sacred. I already had most of the inmates lined up outside the office, just waiting for the Sergeant to come out and count them.
As I said, he was busy flirting, and didn't feel like doing it right then. So he told me to go out and keep them busy for a while. Keep in mind what the population was, and that I was just finished the introduction part, I had no idea what to do, and I told him so.
"Oren, my boy," he told me, "you are going to go out there, stand in front of the company, and talk for the next fifteen minutes. They are going to listen to you, and in 12:17, I am going to count them, am I clear?" I protested that I had no idea what to talk about, and couldn't do it anyway.
"Oren," he said in a much milder voice, "perhaps I wasn't clear, you are going to go out there, and you are going to talk to them, talk to them about socks, if you like. If you don't like it, be kind and take your place at cell 6".
I went out there, and talked for fifteen minutes, and to this day I have no idea about what, although I suspect that socks has been the topic under discussion at least part of the time. I never had any problem with speaking in public since and I admire this Sergeant to this day, very much so, and not only because of that.
DevTeach is in a few days, and I find myself missing my Sergeant again. I know the material, and I am not so much afraid about giving a talk in English, it is the ability to make it interesting that worries me. *Sigh*, I will go practice it some more now...