There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who like and exult in public performances and those who live in a perpetual state of stage fright. You have to be a little mad and little odd in the head to volunteer to address an audience, I imagine a stand up comic has the worst options but even in school and college some of us are cursed and blessed by the ability to go up there and stand ‘naked’ before an army of strangers.
I was one of those but I could never figure out what makes us tick or what it is that compels us to do what most people can feel sick just thinking about the possibility that they might be called on stage.
Take school debates and elocution contests, where it all begins. The dry mouth, the butterflies in the stomach, the sense of dread and wanting to run away or have the ground just swallow you and then they call your name and your mind goes blank and you wish you were a thousand miles away,why would anyone want to punish themselves in this fashion.
And then the mike is on and your audience is a sea of faces, expectant and waiting and before you know it, the anxiety lifts like an aircraft leaving the runway and you soar with the words being the wind under your wings and the world is your oyster and you know you are truly blessed because you are articulate and you can argue and think and rationalize and place things in perspective and put out there for the world your take on an issue. It is a gift and it is something so special.
In the Big Fish collection they say: Public speaking is the number one fear in America. Death is number two.From sweaty palms to cracking voices, speaking publicly can be terrifying, yet it is a crucial skill to have in the business world.
Author Alexander Gregg gave good advice: “There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.”
I loved it. I loved being there establishing that magical contact with friends and mates and strangers and yes, of course, we have to be a bit crazy in the head, but if you can fall in love with the power and the glory or speech in public and orate while others only talk, you will know that there is something so heady about those minutes up on the stage as if for a brief, shining moment you own the world. You wish to conquer stage fright just know what you are speaking about and believe in it…the rest will follow.
For me those occasions were very special and you know how well you have done and spoken and it is not the prizes and the awards (though I got those also) but the confidence you get when you address even an audience of one or one thousand.