The Gift of Public Speaking

That’s what you all can get me for Christmas this year seeing as I DON’T POSSESS IT.
Tonight, my group project team and I present our final presentation that will basically determine our grade for this semester. How can I describe to you how bad I am at public speaking?
- I get anxious in staff meetings with my colleagues who I am friends with and see every day.
I get anxious just having to announce my name and what I do in a room for of people (I actually left a meeting - acted like I needed to take a call – last week and came back in only after I was sure the Everyone Introduce Yourself To The Group portion of the event was over. *bowing head in shame*)
- I get anxious talking on conference calls when no one can even see me.

There’s just something about having the stage that I can’t handle.

I take that back, I actually love attention. I love regaling groups of people at parties with my strange stories.  I loved dancing on stage when I took ballet as a child, loved playing the piano at recitals, and loved singing on stage when I was a part of a cover band for 4 years here in DC (YES. I may not have mentioned much about that before but I did, in fact, sing in a band. There are photos and videos somewhere. I’ll try to find some to share. Maybe.)
But when I have to speak on command – when everyone stops talking and stares at me, forced to listen to whatever I’ll say no matter how uninteresting or discombobulated it might be –
I can’t take that pressure.
I’ve mentioned the first time I realized I could break into hives HERE. Since that happened, I can distinctly feel myself getting blotchy whenever I speak in front of a group.
I also forget to exhale.
I also make weird jokes.
I also get too informal and am tempted to use “y’all” or end every thought with a “ya know what I mean...”
I once gave a presentation in front of my church and kept talking and talking, continually inhaling without letting any breath out, until finally I reached a point where I was either going to squeak out one last word right before blacking out, or force myself to push air out of my lungs.
I chose the latter.
And did it into the mic.
And everyone laughed.
I’ve given presentations at large company meetings and started discussion about the work I did during a serious national disaster by saying:
“this mic is too short for me. I’m gunna need to squat up here and work on my quads during this.”
So you can see why I’m living in dread today. Hopefully I won’t have any new embarrassing stories after presenting tonight.
But I promise to share if I do. Wish me luck.