September 20, 2009
Public Speaking, or Death?
Today I've spent the majority of the afternoon tweaking my presentation for next week's collage workshop at the Greendale Public Library. I like to do this about a week before the class, so that I make sure I haven't forgotten any major talking points or have any misspellings.
So here I am, six days out, and I am cool as a cuke. I have never really had a problem with public speaking, thankfully. In fact, I believe I'm more at ease in a group than I am with someone one-on-one. This is probably unusual.
I just read an article about anxiety by Robert Leahy in the October issue of Real Simple that really helped me get a grip on any worries I do encounter when thinking about how the class is going to go. For example (and I know this is ridiculous): what if the class laughs at me? What if they hate my presentation and they all feel like it's a colossal waste of their time and money? For this worry, Dr. Leahy says, "Make it worse. For instance, if you feel your mind will go blank during a presentation, fake it intentionally in the middle of your next one. Say, 'Gee, what was I just saying?' Notice how this makes no difference. It's nothing to worry about, right? I did this at a lecture once and no one raised an eyebrow (perhaps they weren't listening anyway!)."
Of course, he's absolutely right. Remember the Simpsons episode where they go to a concert and start booing, and Lisa says, "Why would you pay money to go to a concert and heckle someone?" Again, she's right on.
It makes me wonder what, in our collective pasts, makes us so wary of talking out loud so that more than one person can hear us. Is it that we're all really self-centered and believe that we're so important, that we can't screw up because all eyes are on us? Or is it the opposite; we think we're so insignificant that no one would want to hear what we have to say anyway.
I think it's a little of both. So that's why I'm making sure people have a good time by bringing fun treats! I'm going to break the ice by having a table full of collage supplies that people can use. So even if they're not fond of my presentation they can at least say, "Look at the fun stuff I got!" Hey, it worked on the 3rd Grade playground. :D