I recently became Chairman… er, Chairwoman… dangit, Chairperson of the Board of the Florenceville Curling Club.
Whatever we decide to call the position, I’m it. It’s a little daunting for a few reasons.
The club is old and really needs renovations. The kitchen needs overhauled and the bathrooms need updating. We’re even talking about laying a cement floor under the ice this summer. All of this means a lot of change and a lot of decisions to be made, not to mention the amount of money it will cost to bring the club into the 21st century.
Whatever. None of that bothers me. I’m good at organizing and good at bringing people together at meetings. I don’t even get a vote at the Board meetings unless there is a tie so it’s not like a disaster will only fall on my shoulders. And I certainly will not have problems telling someone to shut up for the sake of moving a meeting along.
No, the most daunting aspect of this job… the one aspect that puts fear into me like nothing else can…
Hey, I hear ya buddy. Oh my god, I hate public speaking. I hate it and I suck at it. I suck hard. I feel like every audience I have ever stood in front of has chewed me up and spit me out without them even knowing it.
So why, every time, do I tell myself that it’s going to be okay? Every time a reason comes up for me to speak in public, I think, “No problem! I can do this! This time I’ll be confident and charming and I’ll walk away wondering why I was so worried all these years. People will come up to me and tell me how envious they are of my orating skills and asking me to speak at their function.”.
But no, it has never happened that way and I’m convinced it will never happen that way.
I can talk a blue streak when it’s just you and me sitting down for a chat but the words just don’t flow when there are dozens of people looking me in the face. And I don’t know what the jackass was thinking when he said to picture people naked. What is that? You know my eyes are going to inevitably go to the 500-pound man in the too-short tie, sweat stain, and gym pants ensemble in the third row and that’s supposed to help me?!
So I make a list, a list in bullet form, and I think to myself, “I’ll just jot down the main points in this lovely little bullet-form list and then I will improvise on them when I’m speaking”.
As I jot down my bullets and begin developing a structure for what I want to say, I start jotting down words around the main points; the next level of bullets. For example if the bullet is ‘fruit’, I jot down the fruit that I want to mention… like orange or banana or that guy in the Special K commercials. You know the one:
Oh come on … you know you’ve thought it.
Then a really bitchin’ adjective comes to mind to describe that word; one I think will make me seem suave or clever or at least partially educated and I think, “Well, I can’t forget that”, so I write down that word too. You know, like ‘succulent’ beside orange or ‘phallic’ beside banana.
I congratulate myself. “Phew … I’ve got this covered. Piece of cake”.
The day arrives. The moment gets closer. And then finally, my name is announced. I manage to not trip as I walk to the front of the room (usually). My mouth gets really dry. God, is it even possible for a person’s cheeks to feel this flushed?! I begin to speak and … whose voice is that? Surely that wavering, scratchy voice can’t be mine! Speak normally, damnit! Okay, I’m ready.
I look at my list: my anchor, my saviour, my bullet-form knight in shining armor! And I begin to speak …
“Ladies and gentlemen… who doesn’t love cockulent oranges and all types of phallus bananas … er, I mean phalluses … er, I mean bananas”.
And as the cricket chirps echo off the walls and into the silent room, I think “Why in hell am I talking about fruit in a curling club anyway?” and then I realize: I’ve mistakenly brought the speech for my nymphomaniac’s anonymous meeting on Tuesday.
No, really. I have a lot of respect for people (like my blog friend Laurie who has a career in broadcasting – check her out) that can just rattle on. She gets paid to sit and talk for hours! It boggles my mind! It is admittedly a question of confidence in my case. I am afraid of using a word out of context or pronouncing something wrong or trying to sound so smart that I end up sounding more stupid than I really am (no, I’m not that type, but everybody knows one).
So here I sit, wondering what in the world I’m going to say to a hundred people on Saturday. I guess I better start my list. This time I’ll be confident and charming…
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