‘Palms are sweaty, knees weak arms are heavy, forgotten the slides already, where’s the bar for a bevvy…’
Something along the lines of this is what goes through my head every time that dreaded word comes up...presentation. Nothing on earth has the ability to french plait my stomach quite like that. I’d rather do three weeks in Glastonbury without a tent and shoes than do one of those gut wrenching ordeals. But alas, It has to be done. Every time I update or rewrite my CV, I check to see what the top skills employers are looking for are. Sometimes it comes in at one, sometimes two, but it always sneaks in somewhere amongst the top three. Communication.
The most frustrating thing is I’m not someone that struggles with crippling shyness or social anxiety. I enjoy meeting new people and having a gab. When Barclays ring me monthly to remind me I have no money again, the conversation generally turns into a review of how great Liverpool is and before you know it I’ve been on the phone for an hour with new my best friend, Carol. I’ll happily talk to strangers. In shops, on the street or even on public transport. (I’d never survive London) But put me in a room with a few people and a PowerPoint presentation, It’s not long before my inner monologue starts belting a chorus of killing me softly.
Soon after arriving I wonder how I could simultaneously break my leg and the computer, just in case they’d say I could sit down to do it. Sadly bones remain unbroken, computers remain to be running, and before long this sad little voice can be heard trying to get to grips with the word ‘w-w-w-welcome’. And yes, that sad little voice is mine . The longest 9 and a half minutes of my life has come to an end, And a roomful of aghast people sit before me. ‘That poor girl, I never knew English wasn’t her first language?’ ‘So tragic’ ‘Her and Rahul from Bake-off would be amazing together!‘
The list goes on. I’ve not just ignored this problem. I’ve done all of the google searches. Read a recentish BBC article that said ‘speaking in front of an audience even came out higher than death in one survey with 41% naming it as the thing they were most afraid of’. I don’t know why they wrote that as if it was unreasonable. I’ve also read all the dreadful bits of advice. ‘Practise in front of a friend’ ‘Record yourself in front of a mirror’. Whoever has friends that want to listen to their PowerPoint presentation on a Friday night instead of being down the pub, needs to get themselves on Bumble. As for the mirror suggestion, ah yes. Just did ten minutes talking to the bathroom mirror about product placement, I’m absolutely ready to drop bombs now.
It’s all been fairly hopeless advice apart from one suggestion from an expert on public speaking. ‘Practise’.
It does make sense. When you shy away from every possible public speaking opportunity however, not so easy to fulfil. But I’ve had a hard look at all the things I’ve found difficult to master in my life and repetition was indeed the key to success. If I can make myself like olives then surely I can do it with public speaking? So I’ve decided to jump in the deep end and sign up for the comedy course here at The Comedy Trust. On a stage. In front of people. By yourself. And let’s throw in the attempt to make people laugh just for good measure. What could possibly go wrong? Absolutely everything from beginning to end without a doubt. But for me if I can survive five minutes speaking in front of a room of people, without vomiting, crying or fainting, that for me will be a victory. It’ll be absolutely shite for people who came expecting a laugh of course, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I start the course next week. I’ll give an update on where I’m scoring on the tragic scale weekly