You might call me a nervous Nellie. Speaking in front of a large group of people, even if I know them very well, is enough to bring heat to my face, start my heart racing and my stomach turning. It’s something I occasionally try to address but have made little progress with. My college public speaking class, my company’s speaking class for 12 weeks and even our monthly public speaking luncheon still left with my stomach in my throat every time I opened my mouth. But there is a pretty clear difference. I’m willing to speak in public now. Even though I’m red-faced while speaking rapidly while I start to sweat and might even cry, I still stand up (most of the time).
It’s what I would very generously call a work in progress, but despite all that I am actually working on it and progressing. It was a very small thing but last week I went to check out Speak Easy, a monthly story competition at Five Star Tavern. Normally there’s a theme and people sign up to tell a story on that theme. This time despite the decent sized crowd not a single person volunteered to speak. To combat this problem they had people volunteer to have the audience ask them questions. The theme was Karma Police. You may see the connection there. From the moment I was told about this change of plans I was on edge. Regardless I volunteered and answered a few questions at the mic. I even got a few laughs. Since it was a bar it’s possible no one even noticed my red face!
To take matters worse I’ve officially joined a Toastmasters Club. If you’re not familiar with this organization, people join to become better and more confident speakers. Welcome to my new constant world of nausea!