STANDING ON THE ROOFTOP

Perhaps some people enjoy getting up in front of friends, family, work associates, or even complete strangers, and speaking or performing? I’m guessing that those folks must be in the minority of the population. The majority of the rest of us, not so much, with some of us even exhibiting signs mimicking an actual heart attack at the mere thought of public speaking.

Don’t be hard on yourself, though, as you appear to be in good company. Famous performers such as Adele, Barbara Streisand, Carly Simon, and even Sir Rod Stewart, all suffer some form of stage or performance anxiety. Not a great situation when you, I don’t know, get PAID FOR A LIVING to get up in front of others.

Unless you’re the class clown or a theatre major, chances are you might experience some type of fear about appearing in front of any sort of group of people and speaking.

It sure is nice to stay inside your “comfort zone” and many of us would prefer to live out our days there, surrounded by those who we know like, love and/or support us, not judging us or staring at us, and basically remaining safe and unchallenged. I, personally, would be perfectly happy to stay ensconced in my little happy corner of my shop, only conversing with people I know like me, or at least have to act like they do.

Isn’t there something to be said for breaking out of the fluff surrounding your happy place and challenging yourself a little? Stretch those atrophied public speaking muscles and try something new!

I recently had the opportunity to sit on a panel discussion at a conference for the National Print Owners Association in New Orleans. To make matters worse for someone not used to speaking in front of others, the session was about What Were the Biggest Mistakes You Made in 2016. Cool, public speaking AND confessing to large lapses in good judgment. Yay.

Yes, I was uncomfortable. Yes, it was a little scary. There were over a hundred people in the audience. You know what? It wasn’t so bad! On a panel, you aren’t exactly alone up on the stage; you have a couple peers with you, so that in itself is a balm to jangled nerves. And once you get started speaking, you can just find someone in the audience who seems at least mildly supportive, and hopefully awake, and just speak to him or her.

I didn’t die, or spill anything on myself, and people came up afterward and complimented me on my contribution to the panel. Overall, it was a good experience, and one I can see improving with time and practice.

Maybe you can try it too?

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