“You” being public speaking, of course. There’s nothing like the thought of talking in front of a room full of people to send my nerves into a panicked frenzy. And unfortunately, I have to learn to get over that pretty quickly. Like, tomorrow. Because that’s when I’m heading back to college to speak in my old copywriting class.
You see, I know in my head that I’ve had great work experiences to share with the students. And I know I have a lot of insights into what it takes to get a job, adjust to the “real world”, the real power of networking, etc. But it’s the actual talking that scares the crap out of me. And the whole being-in-front-of-other-people thing.
I like to joke that I totally fit the artsy, hard-to-understand creative stereotype. Because while I’m good at thinking and writing, it’s the whole socializing bit that trips me up. Sure, when I’m with friends I’m a total chatterbox. But when it comes to serious discussions with strangers, I suddenly develop every speech impediment under the sun. I trip over words, forget what I’m saying, mispronounce things, stutter, sweat profusely, my voice gets all quivery and the absolute worst—I forget to swallow. And that most certainly leads to a watery little gagging noise in my throat that is quite unattractive.
Sure, I can write a story no problem. But to actually tell a story? Yikes. I’m the girl who skips to the punch line, leaving people wondering what the heck I’m talking about. I sometimes forget that people aren’t in my head, following my train of thought. Boy, I wish they could (well…maybe not).
The professor, who is actually my old professor and former boss, told me my time in class should be really informal. He told me I should just get up there, tell them about my career thus far and show off some of my work. No preparation necessary.
Um, right. Winging it isn’t really my style. I can just see it now: Me standing in front of a bunch of bored college kids, stumbling over my words, talking in circles and sweating like an ice cold margarita in the hot summer sun. (In other words, A LOT.)
But honestly, I think that’s what I have to try to do. If I write up what I want to say, it will make me even more nervous. So right now I’m just going to take a deep breath and try my best to shake away the butterflies. I’m going to try to focus on what I wanted to hear when I was in their shoes. Reassure them that the real world isn’t that scary. Actually, it can be pretty fun. And make sure to remind them to soak up every last ounce of college while it lasts. Because time sure does fly.
Despite my incredible case of nerves, I’m so honored my old professor asked me to come in and speak. I can’t even believe I’m the professional now. How weird is that? I still feel like I should be sitting in a classroom, fretting over exams, cute boy crushes and sneaking beer into the dorms. But I’ve grown up. And for the first time, I actually feel grown up. And I think I kind of like it.
So wish me luck. And please remind me to bring extra deodorant. I’m going to need it.
What about you guys—are you terrified of public speaking? Or does it just come naturally to you? (Lucky duck!) Any embarrassing stories? I have my share of them, but I’ll save those for another time….