Do You Hate Public Speaking? Do These 7 Things

Not long after I began writing my weekly column, I began to receive requests to do some public speaking.

There are a lot of things in this old world that people fear. There are the fear of heights, big bugs and rattlesnakes, and I’m here to contend that I would go toe to toe against any one of them rather than stand before a large crowd and do a little speech.

But I was a real trooper, back in the day. With all of the wisdom that the ignorance of my youth would allow, I actually said, “Yes, why I would love to speak to your group.”

In the seconds immediately following my agreement to do this heinous thing, my hands began to tremble, my right eye began to twitch and suddenly, I found it difficult to swallow.

These symptoms not only lasted throughout the days in between my stupidity and that nauseating moment when I actually stood in front of the crowd, but they increased in intensity as the day approached.

Still, I tried to face the tedious task of talking to a group head on. I Googled public speaking and how to survive it, the art of not making a fool out of yourself in front of your peers. Following this extensive research, I discovered that no one has ever died from it.

But it was all to no avail. I wisely hung up my microphone, put away the podium and responded to all requests for public speaking with a resounding, “Ah, heck no!”

Therefore, you can imagine my chagrin last week when I opened an email from a nice gentleman, kindly reminding me that I had agreed to talk to his group the following Thursday at noon.

The words not only leapt from the page, a few of them stuck a hand out and slapped me right across the face. As the room began to spin, the computer monitor was suddenly the size of a drive-in theatre and began pulsating.

That’s how I remember it, anyway.

Speaking of remembering, we all know I have a bad memory. I forget names, dates and oftentimes will look for my cellphone when I’m talking on it. Still, I know me and I know that I would never, not once ever, agree to do a speech and then forget about it.

I promptly grabbed the phone and called the guy to dispute the ordeal. Oh, he was so nice. “It’s no big deal,” he said. “There will just be about 30 people, and you’ll only need to talk for 15 minutes.”

Did he seriously think that any of that information was going to comfort me? I would have felt more at ease facing the aforementioned bugs and rattlers.

“People do it all of the time,” he continued. “You’ll do great.”

He was persistent, I had to give him that. I don’t know how he did it, but he convinced me, and to the tune of a teenager forced to do a much-loathed chore, I sighed deeply and said, “Fine.”

Naturally, it took about six years for the next three days to pass. When Thursday finally arrived, I pulled up to the building, walked in with my hands in my pockets to keep them from shaking and walked straight into the room full of people.

I didn’t pass out, I didn’t stutter and to be quite honest with you, I don’t think that I came close to dying even once during those 15 minutes.

I concluded to a round of applause and walked off of the stage. I didn’t even trip.

The kindly gentleman caught up with me and said, “Hey, great job. You really had them laughing in there. I don’t suppose I could get you to come and talk to our community group next Wednesday?”

If I really knew this guy, I would seriously consider giving him a big bug for Christmas.

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