Public speaking always terrified me. My knees would knock, and my voice would shake. I coached volleyball at Catholic University and had to speak at athletic banquets. Once, I was invited to speak at a high school sports banquet. I thought it would be good public relations for my program. I reluctantly accepted the invitation. (Later, I wondered how many men had turned them down before they invited me!)

Driving 60 miles in a downpour was nerve-racking enough for a directionally challenged person like myself. I arrived frazzled. We sat down to a chicken dinner on paper plates. After dinner, as the athletic director was introducing me, a parent was clearing plates that were filled with chicken bones. As my name was being announced, the parent reached down to snag the last napkin on the table, and the stack of plates in his hand toppled.

Chicken bones and potato salad fell on my hair and my clothes. The horrified coach next to me madly started brushing me off.

I walked to the podium with a changed attitude. Nothing I could say or do at that point would be more embarrassing than what had just transpired in front of the entire audience. It was a turning point. I gave the best speech of my life and forever lost the fear of public speaking. Amazing what a little chicken and potato salad can do.

Charlene Jehle,

Ocean View, Del.

NEW QUERY: Tell us about a time when you failed to read the fine print.

The Washington Post is partnering with the Public Insight Network (PIN) to hear more of your 100 percent true stories taken from your own experience. Submit your answer to the query above online at­query. By sharing your story, you become part of PIN — a network of more than 130,000 people who contribute to high-quality journalism. Editors will choose an entry to run in the Magazine, but we will also share more of your stories online. You can also submit to The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.