At first, I thought that public speaking was hard. Actually, that’s not true. At first I didn’t give public speaking much thought at all. I figured it was just something I’d be able to do inherently. With that mindset in place, I nonchalantly accepted the request to propose a toast at my best friend’s wedding about 20 years ago.
The wedding was dream-like. All 300 guests arrived at the glittering reception ready to celebrate. I was elegant in emerald green, until I wasn’t. 30 minutes before the speeches were to begin I was overcome with stomach cramps. Cold sweat slithered down my back. As for my toxic farts, indescribable!
It didn’t occur to me that I was nervous to make the speech. In fact, when a concerned friend asked me what was wrong, I replied, the oysters. Steer clear. Through my panicked haze I heard my name as I was summoned to the mic. I managed to read the speech as written.
Was it a disaster? No.
Was it engaging? No.
It was simply not what it could have been.
As I left the mic, I felt great as I headed to the dance floor. I realised all the horrible feelings were due to nerves. I was shocked because I had been in such physical pain. I was also thankful that I didn’t disappoint my friend by choking. That night I decided I would never let nerves interfere with my ability to perform at my best. Communicating well is important. Now I help other people learn the same skills I did so they can stop fearing the mic in order to thrive at the mic because strong communication skills are life skills.