For this week’s Write Anything Wednesday, I’d like to talk about a weakness of mine: public speaking.
Frankly, I’m not very good at it outside of speaking to a group I’m comfortable with. Even then, it’s very hard for me to give important speeches to that same group.
I can write with authority. I can sound professional on the phone and get things done. I can hold a pretty darn good one-on-one conversation via teleconferencing software. But speaking to a group, live, comes with some difficulty.
I also hate the sound of my voice, especially recorded. It’s sounds kiddy and far different from what people normally hear in a direct conversation. That may be one reason I have never shared a recording of my voice via YouTube.
Remember how hard it was speaking in front of the classroom? I certainly do. All eyes were on me, so there was pressure for me to deliver. I usually stumbled on my words and forgot what I had to say, even if I had to recite a poem.
When I was in the fifth grade, someone had the bright idea of nominating me for class secretary. Not only was it hard for me to speak in front of the class, but it was also hard for me to write a speech in the first place.
What made things harder was the reality of the situation: I knew I would never be chosen over a more popular classmate. I was never really popular in school. Doesn’t it suck when you know which way your classmates will vote when you have to run for class office?
There were a few times when I was most comfortable speaking in front of a class. Most of those times, I managed to make my audience laugh. That seemed to make me more comfortable, as well.
One such instance was when I was in the seventh grade. For my reading class, we would have to write (poems, short stories, whatever) from time to time and then present to the class. One week, I wrote a short story I fairly proud of. I was even more confident that week because I tested my story on my mother and sister to raucous laughter.
I forgot the day it happened, but days after I tested my story on my mother and sister, I was called up to read my story to the class. I was unsure of how my bigger audience was going to respond, but there was a job to do. Gladly, there were a few laughs during my reading. My teacher really loved the story and my presentation. My reading was a success and even some reactions after class had let out.
Even with past successes, it always takes time for me to warm up to a new group and to become acclimated to speaking with them.
As I mentioned above, I have a greater comfort with speaking person-to-person, even in a work setting (except for interviews). The same is true when talking to a small team.
My speaking skills need work when it comes to addressing a larger group.
All that said, I would rather deal with nervousness due to the focus of an audience when compared to have no one’s attention at all.
There are times when the members of an audience are so preoccupied with their own conversations, that it doesn’t matter what the speaker is saying. That’s happened a few times and it’s kinda rude.