Me, Public Speaking? I’d Rather Go Nude!

One of my greatest fears in life is public speaking. I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!

Recently, my little sister asked me to make the customary ‘family member’ speech at her engagement party. I was deeply touched and honored that she considered me, but at the same time I wanted to wet my pants (and throttle her)! Deep down, I secretly thought this was payback for all the times I threatened to flush her down the toilet when we were younger. My stomach began to churn and twist in knots. I had two months to come up with a speech and the pressure was on!

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Some people are gifted speakers, me….not so much. As a student, at the end of each term, my report card read – “C is a conscientious student but needs to participate in class discussion”. It was a recurrent theme throughout primary school and high school, much to the disappointment of my parents! Despite the many lectures from both my teachers and the folks, it was a lesson never learned and haunts me to this day.

 I can’t recall the source or quote the exact statistic, but according to a survey conducted, a significant number of people would rather die than engage in public speaking. OK, it’s a tad extreme but I can more than empathize with the thought.

I’m painfully shy! I liken myself to an awkward, country church mouse with hermit tendencies. I was the wallflower in high school that never got asked out because I was socially inept with zero personality. Men weren’t exactly queuing up for a date during my footloose and fancy free twenties because I couldn’t chat any guy up (it didn’t  help that I tried to save myself for Brad Pitt)!

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I’d still be single, desperate and dateless today if the better half hadn’t have made the first move. He was brave enough to introduce himself when we first met. I think he felt sorry for the loner in the tight skirt and knee high boots leaning up against the bar with vodka in hand.

Some people love the sound of their own voice; you know the ones who could talk under water? I’m in awe of those who can dominate conversations over the dinner table or board room meetings. I envy people who are gifted speakers, the best of which can mesmerize and captivate an audience. It does help if you ooze a little charm, personality and charisma. Personally, I believe you’re born with it, it’s an innate talent.

By contrast, talking is my weakness, my Achilles heal. Place me in front of a group of people and this weakness is elevated ten fold and I’m overcome with paralyzing fear! I start to quiver, sweat uncontrollably and I turn into a jibbering idiot. My mind freezes up and turns blank; I struggle to articulate what’s in my head (which isn’t much). Don’t get me wrong, I love attention. I don’t mind walking into a room, wearing something glam with a touch of bling and turning heads. However, when I open my mouth, I struggle to come up with something sharp, witty or profound to say. It’s a challenge to convey a message in a succinct, articulate manner – instead, I fall flat on my face (I guess this explains why writing is my escape).

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My saving grace has always been my writing. Whenever I had to conduct presentations or meetings at work, I had notes prepared for my own sense of security. So, that’s where my mission began. I began to draft my speech until I realized I had no idea what to write! The avid blogger was suffering from writer’s block! I had to get down to the basics. Like with any good story, you need a captivating introduction, a memorable plot with a middle section that takes the audience on a joyride and a conclusion to tie up the yarn.  I channelled in my marketing experience and similar to a sales pitch, you need to have key objectives and an understanding of your target audience and what they’re after. Research is the key – a broad knowledge and understanding of what you’re talking about!

My ultimate goal was to create a light hearted message about my sister’s road to romantic bliss while hoping the audience didn’t suffer through sheer boredom, and the means to achieve this was to add some humor to the speech. I didn’t want to go down the path of the boring mushy lovey dovey clichés that you find in a Hallmark card – love is a journey not a destination, love is patient, love is kind – Blah! Blah! Blah! What a crock! That makes me gag. Instead, I wanted DIRT, that is, the crazy shenanigans that the youth of today get up to (ideal for my young audience). So I contacted close family and my sister’s friends to dig up some gossip which would form the bulk of my speech.

I certainly didn’t want to write a thesis. I wanted to keep the speech short and sweet – the less time I have to spend talking…the better! Once the speech was written up, the next stage was to practice, because practice makes perfect! I began to rehearse, I’d pace up and down the hallway rehearsing, varying my tone of voice and ensuring the delivery of each joke was perfect. On several occasions I even sat in front of Winston the Wonder Dog and read through my lines. After several rounds, eventually my own dog got bored! He’d look at me perplexed before dozing off. It got to a point where he’d walk the opposite direction as soon as he saw me approaching him. The paw thing, even my own dog got sick of the speech. That wasn’t a good sign!

As the date of the engagement party loomed, I couldn’t sleep. I began to get hives! Even as I slept, my mind raced through what I was going to say. On the day of the soiree, I needed a calming mechanism…..booze! Copious amounts of alcohol helps…it’s the best social lubricant….as they say, booze make men brave and women loose! After a few glasses of vodka, Bacardi and gin – I was rockin’!!!

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With paper in hand, I began the speech. I started off strongly, despite the fact my hands were trembling. If I could measure the amount of quivering, it would be off the Richter scale. I lost my spot once but quickly brushed the mistake off. Once the audience laughed at a few comical gags, I knew I was on fire. To my sister’s relief, I didn’t disgrace myself!

In summary, I survived! Woo hooo! Would I ever volunteer or yearn to be nominated for any future public speaking events? Well, like I said earlier, I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!

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50 thoughts on “Me, Public Speaking? I’d Rather Go Nude!

  1. hahahah this was the most fantastic post. I seriously laughed out loud because I too have dealt with this extreme fear. Ive lacked a way to put it into words until you mentioned walking through a dessert full of hairy tarantuals. yep. you hit the damn nail on the head!!!!!! Congrats on being able to give that speech. I thinjk I would have fainted. I find it hilarious how even though I hate public speaking, I love private speaking on my blog ❤ ~! I nominated you for a Beautiful Blog Award on my page! http://www.muffinsandmocha.com Hope you like it.

    • hahaha It’s great we can all laugh about it! I swear, I felt like fainting! People say, pretend everyone in the room is naked – but that doesn’t help! I love private speaking too – my blog is my way of getting a message conveyed! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the Beautiful Blog Award!!! It means the world to me. It’s great other people enjoy my post! Sending good vibes your way:)

  2. Some people love very much to speak in front of an audience, which sometime is OK. The problem is the speaker is not a well organized person. So, when he speaks about an item which in fact he is good at, he several times repeats himself or talks about things which has no connection whatsoever with the subject he is talking about. That is boring.

    On Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 8:25 PM, THE VIBE 101

  3. Pingback: Public Speaking FEAR « muffinsandmocha

  4. Congratulations on succeeding (you call it surviving). I have no problem with public speaking … I wish I had your saving grace, the ability to write!

  5. This post gave me a much needed laugh before I start work. Like you, I am terrified of public speaking.I would drather stab myself in the eyes with a pencil than speak in public. I have managed to get out of every speaking requirement in university and I have a way of disappearing when the threat of saying anything in public looms before me. The funny thing is I felt the same way about singing, but I love to sing. So a while back I decided that I would face this fear head on and went to a karaoke bar with my friends. I have to say singing in public was a most liberating experience. I still have not spoken in public, so maybe that’s next.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!! lol, you make me laugh. We’re so much a like. You know, I luv karaoke, especially after a few drinks hehehehe!!! Mind you, I’ve never done karaoke in public, I’ve only tormented family & friends with my ‘dulcet’ tones. Well done, it takes courage to do it and you’re one step ahead of me:) Cheers!

    • You know, I don’t mind singing a few tunes over karaoke, especially after a few drinks. It doesn’t bother me that I can make a fool of myself. BUT, when it comes to public speaking….I avoid it like the plague!

  6. I’m glad you survived that speech. I totally understand where you’re coming from as I too have a fear of public speaking. Awkward moments and dead air are two of my worst nightmares when delivering a speech to a large group of people.

  7. I hate public speaking too just the thought is awful! Well done for going for it and I’m sure you made your sister proud 🙂 ill have to do the same one day for my sister I’m sure ill be going through a similar experience!

  8. I totally know what you mean about being better on paper than on a stage. But then I joined Toastmasters, and it honest worked (trust me, they did not pay me to write that :D). The group I had in Paradise, Calif. was the nicest, most supportive bunch of people you could ever meet. It really does help to keep “plunging into the deep end” —- over and over again. Now, my knees quiver only half as much. 🙂

      • Jammie is spot on. Toastmasters is the truth.I am a member in Maseru,Lesotho and the group too is amazing, heaven sent. I only just completed my Competent Communicator level and in between Igave 3 wedding speeches and with each one, you could tell the maturity/confidence in my speeches. As they say at the meetings…..”e can never get rid of the butterflies,but we learn to harness them and get them to fly in formation”…….I promise I too wasn’t paid but Toastmasters is really worth it.

        Lovely piece once again.

      • I’ve heard so much about Toastmasters. I am in awe of you…I’m in awe of anyone who can deliver a speech in front of a group of people. Well done! It’s great you’ve increased your confidence. I too still need to learn how to harness those butterflies:)

  9. Although I was a teacher I couldn’t speak confidently in front of adults, on a stage, with a microphone. After a few sessions with PowerTalk, the updated version of Toastmistress and not so formal as Toastmasters, I’m reading lessons in church. Wow!

  10. BEAUTIFUL! I enjoyed reading it… it is one of the few blog posts on the net that I read every word.. I like your writing style and articulation..

  11. I don’t really have an issue talking in public, but i always end up rambling and that’s where some fear comes from because people look at me like “she hasn’t a clue what she’s saying” and they’re right! some things for me to work on? – getting proper information and stop acting as if i have it together 🙂

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