Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is speaking in public really worse than death?

The public speaking trainer at my company actually said some people think it is. And, come to think about it, it could be true for me.

I’ve been paralyzed for the last couple of weeks obsessing over having to present a training module this morning. Now really I’m at choice about whether to take on this kind of assignment so, why did I do this to myself? I don’t need to do it. I could easily have opted out of today’s assignment. But I didn’t. I still want to keep my hand in. And in my book proposal I state that I have public speaking experience. If I have to promote my book, I’ll have to be well practiced in presenting skills.

I guess that's a good enough reason to get over my fear and go for it.

Another basic question is, once I've decided to accept the assignment, why do I obsess so much? I’ve presented in front of big groups many times over the last few years – and in front of very high level people. And, as usual , as soon as I stand up in front of the room all my angst, my rapid heartbeats, my sweaty arm pits go away. Today, I didn’t even need to hide in the corner. I just stood in the middle of the room, introduced myself and waded right in – without my cheat sheets that I usually have at the ready just in case.

I think what made me feel better was forcing myself to do a rehearsal last Monday morning. I wanted to make sure that was I was going to say passed muster with my colleagues – the folks in charge of the training. After that, I really began to relax a bit.

That is a good lesson. And it’s one I tell orals teams over and over – rehearsing is the key. If you know your stuff cold, if you’ve gone over it a time or two, there is no reason to feel any trepidation at all.

Ironically, I spent the last couple of days critiquing others at their customer briefing rehearsal. And they listen to me as if I’m an oral presentation guru. Well, I have helped many orals teams become successful. In fact, the leader of the team I worked with this week learned a lot of her skills from me. But, like all else, it’s easier said than done.

Well, I'm happy to report I lived through my presentation today -- yet again!

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