Public speaking has been one of my biggest phobias since I was a child. I used to hope for some catastrophe to befall me on my way to school rather than having to give an oral report. A 6.0 earthquake or being hit by a car seemed like a better alternative than standing in front of a class full of kids staring at me while I stammered and stumbled my way through a topic I knew well before and now seemed to have forgotten completely.
It has become a little easier over the years, but it still causes general anxiety and dread. I do well in small spurts, like leading a meeting or introducing people. However, when I’m the main attraction all bets are off. I joke that if I don’t throw up on myself that it will be a success.
One way I cope with the anxiety of presenting is to over prepare. I write an outline of what I want to say, create my presentation slides, the notes to go with the slides and then I practice, refine, practice some more and refine.
This method seemed to work well yesterday.
I’ve been working on a campus-wide blogging project for several months. I am the one most familiar with the project and the WordPress software we are using. It made sense that I would give the presentation even though I lack the public speaking experience and ease of some of my colleagues.
It was the first time that I have ever given a presentation where I felt comfortable. I was nervous before and made my paper notes damp with perspiration. However, when I stood before the crowd I felt at ease. I made a joke, people laughed. I began speaking and realized towards the end that I had not used my notes. The words flowed easily and I actually enjoyed myself. I was able to answer the questions at the end with the authority that came from knowing the product well.
I have no idea if the next time I have to present something will go as well, but I’ll take my wins where I can.