I think at some point in all of our lives, we’ve had to deal with speaking to a crowd. Whether it was for a school project or a community play or business presentation, we’ve all been in a position where we’ve had to stand in front of an audience and absorb all of its attention.
Like many people, I dread giving presentations. Being the focal point of a large group of people seems like a horrific nightmare. That’s actually one of the foremost reasons why I love blogging. It’s much easier for me to share my thoughts by typing them into a computer rather than speaking them aloud.
Leading up to a big presentation, emotions are running high. There are so many fears and doubts and anxieties scampering through your brain. You think about the eyes of the audience members, boring into you like lasers. You think about your mind going blank, forgetting all the things you’re supposed to say. Your heart races. Your head spins. Your stomach churns. Nothing seems worse than the possibility of failing in front of a crowd.
Public speaking has been one of my greatest worries for as long as I can remember. As someone who tends to overthink things, I would always get myself worked up about presentations in school. When I was in sixth grade, I had to give a short speech about the layers of the Earth in my science class. I had made a Styrofoam model of the planet and painted each layer in distinct shades of red, orange, and yellow. It wasn’t a difficult assignment. All I was required to do was explain what each color represented. Simple.
As I sat at my desk, waiting for my turn to present, I felt my palms start to grow clammy. In my head, I repeated the four layers–the Crust, the Mantle, the Inner Core, the Outer Core–over and over. I told myself to push all my reservations away, and focus solely on getting through my speech.
When the teacher called my name, I scurried to the front of the classroom, legs quaking. I held out my Styrofoam model and looked out into the sea of faces that surrounded me. All of a sudden, everything I thought I knew had vanished. My brain was a blank slate. I could hear the blood rushing through my ears and feel the prickle of forty-two eyes staring me down. My fears had come to life.
Awkwardly, I made my way through the presentation. I didn’t just stumble over my words–I toppled over them at full-force. The minute-long presentation dragged on for what felt like hours. When it finally ended, I bolted back to my seat and drooped my head n silence.
To my sixth grade self, this was the worst thing that could have happened. As I got older, I realized something critical: that was the worst that could have happened. A moment of embarrassment was the most damage that could be done. After all the fretting I had done, this felt so insignificant. It was like reading a suspenseful book that culminated in a boring finale. I couldn’t believe this moment had me so nervous.
The point I am trying to convey is that despite what our fears may tell us, a botched presentation will not define our lives. When it comes to stresses that seem big but are actually small, it’s important to put everything into perspective. And while public speaking may always been strenuous, it might help to remind yourself that embarrassment really isn’t as bad as it seems.
Thank you so much for reading. I realize this is a lot different from what I normally post, but hopefully it can be helpful.
How do you feel about public speaking?