life, thoughts

No Speaking Please

Isn’t it funny how people love to see others screw up? I got a lot of clicks on my post last week titled, Insert Boot in Mouth.

shadowspeakerDespite my disastrous blunders that day, I usually don’t have trouble mingling and socializing one-on-one.

Speaking in front of a crowd, however, sends me into a tailspin.

I must digress a moment and make another confession, as I tend to do on this blog. It’s not the best timing to fess up, and I postponed this post from last week because it was even worse timing. But, I trust my blogging friends will still like me anyway.

My dad commented on my post last week and hinted to this confession I’m about to make.

So … deep breath … here goes … my dad is a politician.

Ack, right? Can you imagine the “discussions” in our Italian household growing up?

To be clear, he is a local politician in a community outside of Chicago. In other words, he’s not a Chicago politician. I’m not trying to paint a Pollyanna picture, because politics is an ugly business. But, my dad has helped many over the years. He is semi-retired and should be fully retired by now. Most of his remaining work is volunteer.

Now, back to the topic at hand. The event I wrote about going to  was a political fund raiser (local) my dad put together. I hadn’t lived here in so long, I forgot how good he was at public speaking. I was impressed, proud and envious all at the same time. Why didn’t I inherit that gene?

Although my dad never wrote fiction, he has told us hilarious stories about his past adventures. He even has one about how/why he got involved with politics. It was to spite a politician who wouldn’t listen to him about a community project.

So, I got the storytelling gene, but not the public speaking gene.

I asked Dad if he gets nervous when speaking to an audience. He said he’s been doing it for so long, it doesn’t even cross his mind. What I really found interesting was that he was still Dad up there. His personality didn’t change. He wasn’t a pretend character to impress the audience. He was the same man I’ve known from birth.

His strong Chicago accent (example: Dah Bears) resounded throughout the room. When he wasn’t sure if he thanked everyone involved, he asked the audience if he forgot anyone. A couple of people reminded him, and he went on to mention the names he’d forgotten. He wasn’t embarrassed at all about forgetting. He just moved forward, which came across as professional and inclusive.

If it were me, I’d be stumbling and bumbling through my words. Spittle would likely fly from my mouth and I might even choke on some of it.

I suppose I should practice … maybe join Toastmasters? I have the tremors just thinking about it.

Side note: I steered clear of the “family” business.

How do you feel about public speaking? Are you comfortable? Do you panic? Somewhere in between?

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25 thoughts on “No Speaking Please”

  1. Good for your dad, and good for writing this blog. People always give politicians a bad name. Everyone loves to hate a politician! I have often proudly (almost defiantly–could you tell it’s almost defiantly?) advertised that I’m a politician because it forces people to double-take and realize a nice person can be in that role. It’s just a role that folks take on and sometimes they do a good job and sometimes they screw up, just like the rest of us. Sometimes they’re brilliant in their skills (perhaps like your dad at times?) and sometimes they’re self-serving and confused like, hey, so many others.

    I have been good at public speaking and terrible at it. Tried to give a spiritual talk in a teepee to a dozen people in 2003 and bombed it. It sounded awful! Last summer was interviewed on the radio and it sounded halfway decent. Usually it feels so relaxed at township meetings for so many years that it’s darn easy. I have to talk a straight hour about budgets and numbers for both the township and school, so it’s really good practice. You don’t have to worry, you just spew forth numbers. 🙂

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    1. I think the national politicians we see in the media are portrayed as so slimy, that people don’t realize the local community politicians may actually be trying to make a difference and do good with their positions.

      I heard your interview on the radio and you did a great job. Sounds like the more you spoke in public from 2003 to now, the better you got at it.

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Kathy.

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  2. I’m always petrified before public speaking, no matter how well I’ve practiced and know my material. The funny thing is, I usually do fine. But I can’t seem to remember that for the next round! And so the cycle repeats. 🙂

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  3. I always get a way of nerves before I have to speak in public. I practice a lot to feel more comfortable and know what I want to say so I can speak in a calm comfortable manner. People tell me I appear very at ease. I tell them I’m a great actress. 😉

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    1. Hi Kourtney. I must admit, you were one I wondered about, because I know you speak often. Sounds like you do well, despite the nerves right beforehand. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  4. I’m not comfortable with public speaking either. I’m ok if it’s a very small group that I know well, like coworkers. I actually got some good experience training in a workplace environment several years ago. If I really understand the topic I’m talking about, I’m ok but it is certainly not something that feels natural for me. As writers, we can edit ourselves easily, but with speaking live, there is no edit or correction button, so it’s bit more of a risk.

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    1. Great point, Joy. We can’t take back something said. It’s already heard. Thank you for sharing your experience and feelings on the matter.

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  5. I admire people who are good public speakers, probably because I’m terrible at it myself. I can talk to a group of little kids (having taught for many years) but speaking in front of adults is different. Kids don’t judge, and if they do, they forgive easily. Adults are more critical and unforgiving. Not sure why.

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    1. Hi Jill. I mentioned choking on my own spittle, because I actually did that during an oral book report in middle school. Ha. I still feel embarrassed about it to this day. 😛 Have you ever had to do public speaking in your line of work? Thank you for sharing.

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  6. When I was a kid, it terrified me. In my 20’s it got better, but as I get older, it’s grown to terrify me again. I just can’t do it. I’ve been asked several times to speak at local writing groups about my Accounting for Author series, but I just can’t do it. Lol.

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    1. Hi Angela. You’re so friendly, I didn’t think that you’d have trouble. Thanks for sharing it, and for commiserating with me. 😀

      I’d like to learn how to do it, though. I always have that ‘some day’ thought in the back of my head, but I’m not getting any younger. 😛

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    1. I’m envious of the ease you have with public speaking. Sounds like you have to do it frequently though, so I can understand how you might get used to it. For me, I can imagine myself getting better at it with practice, but never feeling quite comfortable.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  7. I’m not a fan of public speaking. I have to rehearse quite a bit so that the words flow smoothly. But it does get easier over time and with practice, though I’m not sure the butterflies ever disappear.

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    1. Hi Carrie. Being an introvert, I wondered if you’d have trouble with public speaking. Have you had to do it in your medical profession or with book events? Both? I see you say you rehearse, so I’m guessing you’ve had to do it several times. I’d probably get better at it if I had to do it more regularly, but I don’t think I’d ever feel comfortable up there. My dad just looked so at ease.

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

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        1. Thanks for answering, Carrie. I figured you might have had to speak with your medical professional background. And yes, book signings do sound scary. I’m okay with one-on-one, but it’s awkward when we have to hawk a book. 😛

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  8. Hi Lori, I don’t really mind public speaking if I know what I am talking about. My husband is a health educator and he can talk to large crowds without ever even thinking twice about it. I, like you, am quite envious of that. I used to do quite a bit of public speaking, but not so much anymore. And I am grateful for that.

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    1. Hi SD. I’ll bet you were good at public speaking, especially since you do know what you’re talking about. It is curious to watch these people we love, talk to a crowd with such ease. Like I said, I’m proud and envious all at once. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic.

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