Networking group: At least no one threw a shoe at me

Preface: I am a terrible public speaker, and have been since my first attempt as a sophomore in high school. I tried to knock that on the head in the late 90s by becoming an English language teacher but never made any significant progress.

This morning I attended that business networking breakfast I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, and it went worse than anticipated. I now have way too much in common with our former president…

First, I couldn’t fall asleep last night and even resorted to melatonin and NyQuil around 2:30am. Second, I got a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease while actually speaking. I should have scripted. But the best part, the thing that puts me in the same class as the ex-prez, is that in my attempts to make a beeline for the exit, I was thwarted by the door. I pushed and it didn’t open. I noted the hinges on my side and searched for a handle – none. I actually clawed at a flush pane of glass until I found enough purchase to coax the door open.

Of course, I didn’t manage to make my escape before a pushy knife salesman had a chance to corner me. He wants to barter, but in a way that would still involve me paying for his products. Screw that.

I called my mother on the walk home afterwards to inform her that I hadn’t outgrown my stagefright. She has some not-so-fond memories of be being violently ill the night before class presentations all through high school. Her response: “At least no one threw a shoe at you.”

9 Responses

  1. Do you want to be a better public speaker? If you do you should look into toastmasters, there are probably many chapters in NYC. There was a group at my old company, they are devoted to helping improve members public speaking ability. I’m shy but don’t have problems with speaking to groups. But, I do have a tendency to flush bright red even when I’m not nervous. Ugh it’s embarassing. Sorry the breakfast didn’t go better :(

  2. Getting over a fear of public speaking is not easy. I usually just go up there, tell myself I’ll never see these people again, and rock it out.

    Being VERY prepared the 2 weeks before, helps a ton.

  3. @Miss M: I’m the same! I flush bright red ALL THE TIME… any kind of emotion triggers it. I get the weirdest looks… sigh.

    Anyway, Kate… I can sympathize. :( I have stagefright prior to all public speaking… but as long as I can spend 20 mins in the bathroom before I go on, I’m fine. (Sorry for the tmi… <.<) It’s funny that I chose to go to law school with this problem. heh.

  4. I’m surprised that you dislike public speaking since your written words are often articulate. (And I always subscribed to the stereotype of eloquent Brits.) And I love your mom’s response!

  5. I’m only a naturalized Brit – lived there 1992-2000. And now that you’ve got me remembering, my public speaking problem was a shadow of its American self. I was very socially comfortable there, even the life of the party…and here I’m an awkward, weird little wallflower. Mm, that’s a bit disturbing…

  6. My yoga teacher, who is a wonderful teacher but you used to have terrible anxiety everytime she would teach a class, was helped by something her husband told her: be perfectly imperfect.

    Perfection not required.

  7. In fact, just to reiterate, I think reducing your anxiety by reminding yourself that you don’t have to be perfect, can be just as helpful as preparing in advance!

  8. Ah the joys of public speaking! I hate giving any kind of public speech. I thought I was going to die at my bff’s wedding two weeks ago! I had to do a reading, a responsoro reading, and the toast. Yay for me! I practiced, I did, but I hate getting up in front of people.

    @Schtinkykat, most people who are great writers are often not good speakers. The thing is, we have the time to organize our thoughts in writing, whereas being put on the spot causes a total verbal meltdown. This isn’t the case for all great writers, but a good majority of them are afflicted with stage fright, as it were.

    @Kate – at least you got up there and made an attempt. Do you think you see value in this networking group at all?

  9. ouch, yeah i feel your pain. i’m horrible at it too – i once uttered exactly 3 words during a 5 min speech i had to do in spanish class years ago… “Yo no se” is what i said. and it was my first D I ever got (why it wasn’t an F i don’t know, my teacher probably felt bad for me).

    if it’s a topic i know pretty well (say, for example finance stuff or graphic design) i’m okay, esp if it’s interactive. but straight normal speeches? *shiver*

    at least it was a learning experience, for whatever that’s worth.

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