Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Public Speaking... YIKES! By Mike Ciccotello

I can trace my fear of public speaking back to my sixth grade student council elections. As I walked up to the podium, I tripped and fell over a bunch of metal folding chairs. My heart started pounding. I was so embarrassed. I barely got through my speech. The same year, my mind went blank during my piano recital. I could only get through the first stanza of music. After three attempts, I got up, walked away from the piano and started crying my eyes out. Those two incidents set the stage for my fear of being singled out in front of a crowd. 

It's not a comfortable thing to watch. I start talking and inevitably my voice cracks. My eyes glaze over as I stare blankly into the audience, and then my arms start shaking. 

Last year, I insisted on getting over this fear. It took many conversations with friends and loved ones. This past year, I ran a workshop for NJ SCBWI, I hosted a Lunch and Learn at Johnson & Johnson headquarters, I spoke at my county library, and I did a full day school visit for 300 children. I decided that the only way I was going to get over it was to keep doing it. I will be the first to tell you, its not easy, but it's getting better. 

On Thursday and Friday this week, I'll be leading four Character Design workshops for the NJ Teen Arts Festival, hosted by Monmouth County Arts Organization at Brookdale Community College. I'm somewhere between excited and terrified. 

I'm not too worried about the speaking part, I just hope to connect with the kids, and let them know that nurturing their talent and following their dreams is absolutely worth it. 

Don't Let Go, by Mike Ciccotello

Represented by Rachel Orr
For more info contact 

Instagram: @ciccotello 
Twitter: @ciccotello 


  1. I can totally relate to your fears! I have nightmare memories of my school presentations. I always opted to write a paper instead of give an oral report if I had the choice. Good luck at Brookdale. I grew up right down the road from there (even took a photography course there one semester). It was full of friendly folk, so I'm sure you'll be in great hands!

  2. I can relate to your fear of speaking. I do as you do, I accept speaking engagements even thought they scare me to death. Every time I get a little better and more relaxed. My husband always says, why do you do this to yourself? Well, I want to improve as a speaker and I want to educate children and adults about picture books and illustration. The first time I taught an university level design course, I had to run to the ladies room to vomit after my lecture. I have relaxed a lot after that.

  3. Forgot to add- Love your illustrations. Best of Luck.

  4. Mike, you're amazing :D I can totally relate to this! The thing is, when I was a kid I would get nervous, but not actual "stage fright" that I can remember. I can remember memorizing a "report" for a class in grammar school (that's when I had a brain to do it! lol), and dance recitals were exciting. I don't remember getting nervous over them and was very "take charge" when I had to be. It was in high school that the real nervousness and stage fright kicked in. That's when we're so much more conscious of not wanting to screw up or whatever :( For the years I did clown work, it was the same deal. I was petrified about the magic tricks and "performing" the first time more than ever, and I was fine when it was just kids. When the adults were watching I hated it. Anyway, you've got the best personality and you certainly have lots you can teach that people want to hear. I'm SURE you're wonderful and know that ANYthing you're passing on---they want to hear from you :) I'm in awe of how you've jumped in and are doing something that is SO hard to do oxox