Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tripping Over Your Tongue, or Why Was I So Worried?

The title of my speech ended up being Tripping Over Your Tongue. According to my professor, most speech titles have a verb in them. I don't know that I've seen many speech titles, so I can't verify from experience whether or not this is true. Considering it was part of the grade, I didn't want to take a chance.

Tuesday, I did everything I knew how to do to boost my confidence. I wore my hair in a soft side pony. I wore a new green, chiffon, belted dress that I got multiple compliments on before class even started. I would have worn heels, but I have about a quarter mile walk from my car to my classroom. I even distracted myself with the USA soccer game (the classmate from the coffee shop and I watched the last quarter of it together in the hallway before class). Once class started, though, I went back to a trembling puddle of nerves. It didn't help that I had to move my seat so the professor could sit right directly in the middle of the classroom. I guess everyone else needed a distraction at that moment, too, so everyone watched me walk all the way around the room to switch seats. I was already afraid of falling down that I ran into a chair.

Fortunately, even though my name is always first on the roster, I did not have to speak first. I had a few minutes to watch other people fumble through, play with the podium, and a couple who knocked it out of the park. I decided to go after I got some pressure from my friend and my professor asked me if I was ready. I wasn't ready. I was NOWHERE near ready, but this was one of those do-or-die moments. So I agreed. I very slowly and politely handed in my formal outline, took a deep breath, and slid out of my chair. I think the funeral dirge was playing as I was walking up to the front of the class, but I can't be sure. That may have just been my heart in my throat. Coffee shop classmate smiled at me. Classmate friend smiled at me. Professor smiled at me. I took a deep breath, and the next five minutes flew by. I stumbled a couple of times, but luckily had anchor points all the way across the classroom. One on my right. One dead center. One to my left. When I felt like I was going to faint, I made eye contact with my people. I'm not sure I would have done as well without them, and OH did I do well!

My voice, while feeling disconnected from my body, was strong. My hands were still. I smiled when appropriate, emoted my "Get Excited!" so loud it rang across the room, and my closing was delivered with the perfect beat. I took my notes and walked back to my seat. My teacher whispered "Very well done, Amy", classmate friend patted me on the shoulder, and coffee shop classmate was smiling at me. I got more compliments at the break. My professor even pulled me aside after class (the first time I've been asked to stay after a class IN MY LIFE) to tell me she couldn't believe that I was so nervous because I had done so well.

Looking back, I can't tell why I was so nervous. I did the necessary research, I practiced relentlessly, I hi-lighted my speaker's outline, and I was confident. I was ready, I was just afraid. I took my nervous energy and channeled it into that excitement that Alison Wood Brooks was talking about. We have another speech due in two weeks, and this time I'm ready. I'm not afraid. Well, I'm a little afraid, but some fear and anxiety are normal. This time, I might even go second or third!

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