Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Speaking in public

I'm a member of the Norwegian Humanist Assosiation and have been a local board member the last 4-5 years. This month is when we hold our annual Coming-of-Age Ceremony. Hubby, Simen and I have been helping out with the ceremony as many years, because we appreciate the year long program-course with emphasis on respect and tolerance of others, that the kids are taking part of and the beautiful ceremony that is held to honor our young teenagers that will grow up to become pillars of our community.

The ceremony is April 26th. This week we had a summary meeting with both teens and parents. Thursday is the big rehearsal. I had to step in as a chairperson for the meeting.

Speaking in public freaks me out so bad. I know it  sounds weird. I've worked as a teacher, how can that be possible.

I don't mind a classroom full of kids, or adults for that matter - when I started out as a teacher, many of the students were twice my age.

 Put me on a stage with a microphone and I die a million times inside. It takes all I've got to not just crumble down and faint.

 I'm much more comfortable helping out behind the stage, so to speak. Being responsible for the catering, rigging, cleaning, etc. This year, however, all the other boardmembers and course leaders were away, or at their regular jobs.

Thankfully I only got 4 days' notice. If I had known for longer, I'd probably ended up institutionalized. My old mentor and former teacher-colleague had made a powerpoint presentation with notes, the wonderful young course leaders (former Coming-of-Age participants) agreed to take care of the course summary, etc, so there really weren't much left to do for me. I still had to do the welcome and go through the practical information about the ceremony. It was enough for a brainmelt. I did what I always do with things way outside my comfort zone. I go ahead and try not think about it, because it's a job and the job needs to be done regardless.

  • I completely forgot to present myself. A few parents approached me afterwards and politely asked my name. Sooo embarrassing. It's like I was raised in a barn with no manners

  • I miss-pronounced several of the participants' names during the name-call. (although this is one of the points with the meeting, making sure the participants' names are correct and pronounced correctly)
  • Sweat ran down my face. In friggin' rivers. I tried to wipe it off discreetly, but with 150 people watching? Nah...
  • I messed up a few times and had the whole room break out in loud laughter 
  • I did manage to bring up everything I was supposed to and my voice didn't shake - which was my biggest fear. 

I was so much in a hurry to get home afterwards, that I helped put back all the tables and chairs - the meeting was held at the high school cafeteria. Baaad. 

I didn't sleep at all that night and I was a complete wreck the next day. All the things I could have done differently/better kept swirling around in my mind like annoyed little wasps. 

I slept alright tonight, but my arms still feels like lead and my shoulders are letting me know I was a stupid idiot for carrying tables high above my head. I took Marianne for a hike down to the sea and I feel like I've been run through the army recruit work-out-routine

At least it's done and over with. 

How do you deal with situations outside your comfort zone? Have you done any public speeches? How do you prepare? Does it get any better, ever?  


  1. It gets better with practice. I have more trouble casually speaking to five friends than performing before a crowded auditorium. Perhaps it was being forced on stage from age six that helped me. It wasn't long before the stage felt like a 'safe' zone. The jitters never go away, but they can be turned into positive energy.

  2. I'm thinking I'm going to continue avoiding doing it as best as I can ;)