I'm in panic mode right now. I hate speaking in front of a group of people. I have no problems speaking up in meetings or talking to "important" people on the phone. I do really well at the one on one schmoozing that is required when you attend trade shows. But ask me to stand up in front of a room of strangers and speak and I freeze. I - uhm - forget - uhm - what I was going to say.
Tomorrow morning I "volunteered" to give a presentation at a client forum we are holding. I told my former boss that I would be more than happy to help out in anyway I could - as long as I didn't have to present. I guess that piece of information went out the door with him when he left the company a few months back. Now I have to stand up in front of a room full of clients and present a 40-45 minute presentation. "Just make it conversational" they said, "Try to make it fun". Uhm, sorry but my assigned subject matter isn't exactly the kind of stuff you hear at the local Laugh Factory. I'm a reformed geek (aka code monkey) and even I think some of this is b-o-r-i-n-g.
I've made myself all kinds of notes (slow down!, take a deep breath!, smile!) I've (gasp!) even practiced my presentation so it doesn't sound like I'm reading - or that I'm a complete babbling idiot! In fact, I purposely put very little on the slides to avoid the allusion that I'm just reading. Personal Pet Peeve Alert - I can read your slides a lot faster than you can read them to me so tell me something else or quit wasting my time! I've timed myself over and over and I am right at the 40 minute mark. Perfect, right? Maybe, if I can remember to s-l-o-w down and not talk too fast, if I don't puke on the front row due to nerves, if I don't fall off my heels tripping over a projector cord. Oh, and I hope that I don't clobber someone in the front row. I should have some Italian in me considering how much I use my hands when I talk!
So wish me luck! I doubt I can whip up a serious case of laryngitis by morning so I think I'm stuck. Oh well, within the next 12 hours it will all be over and I can get back to some serious fun.