I gave my first "Sunday" talk when I was still 15 years old - filling in for my father who was scheduled to give the talk but became ill earlier that day. In those days (1959) you would have a fairly complete outline of the scheduled talk, but you would be expected to use your own phrases and expand on it. My father would make some notes and then hand them to me with the standard outline. I typed it all up for him on my typewriter and then underlined sentences and phrases that he should emphasize.
Dad mostly read his speeches. He'd read the first part of a sentence and then look up at the audience and finish. That made for some interesting comments afterward by some of the visitors who were not used to his style. My approach, even at 15, was a lot more polished - or at least I thought so. In those days, Sunday public talks were almost an hour long and could be quite exciting or boring as hell. (Then there was a 15-20 minute break and then we'd do the Watchtower study for most of another hour.)
But there was a problem with my notes. I had the original outline with me, but I had 4 pages of notes and text that I would actually be using for the speech. You can imagine my panic when I realized that Dad had given me only 3 pages of notes AFTER I arrived at the podium. So I had to grab the outline and slip into the "slot" where the missing page would have been. But my typed text was full sized and all caps - and the outline was fairly small print and hard to read - plus I'd have to figure out where on the page I was where the missing section would have been. To say I was in meltdown through most of the talk would be a reasonable assumption.
In those days most Witnesses seemed to be more friendly and understanding - except for some of the old timers who claimed to be "of the Anointed." They tended to be less forgiving and mostly critical of someone in my situation. I often wondered if "love for your brother" didn't leak out them as they got older and closer to their big move uphill to the streets paved with gold that led to Jehovah's castle in the sky. Needless to say, I received some rather scornful looks from several of the older members.
But I survived that experience. When I turned 19 and was newly married, I was assigned to the "exchange" group and was tasked with giving Sunday talks at other Kingdom Halls in our circuit. By that time I had recovered from the disaster that was my first public talk and my reputation and ego had recovered. I was actually pretty good by then and had given enough talks that I could grab an outline, refresh my memory a bit by looking over and highlighting the "important" points where I would gesture with my right hand and carefully, but forcefully emphasize parts whenever I saw the audience begin to doze or seem inattentive.
Thank goodness that those days are far behind me. Even though I could breeze through a talk like those with just a half page of notes now - I simply can not imagine getting up on stage and spending 30 minutes telling lies and total BS. If I could go back in time and undo all of that totally wasted presentation of BS - I would.
Anyone have a spare "time machine" in your garage?