Category Archives: public speaking

WTF? Randomness

So, this is me today…

http://www.queenofwands.net/d/20050408.html

I guess you could say that I am a bit cranky.  It started off as a good day, so I’m not quite sure how I got here.  Well, no that’s not exactly true.  I kind of do.

I was up at about 7am and had breakfast, which consisted of a bit of leftover chicken saag from the Indian restaurant I went to the night before.  I was basically full after about four bites.  I turned the news on and then immediately fell back asleep.

Then I had the strangest dream about the house where I grew up.  My mother sold the house oh about 27 years ago, but it still lives large in my memory I guess.  We lived there from the time I was in first grade until after I graduated high school.  When my mom remarried, we moved and sold the house.

In my dream, my brother and sisters and I went through all of the empty rooms finding memories and keepsakes from our childhood.  It was almost as if we were saying goodbye to the house for the last time.  I awoke with the strangest feelings; a little bit of sadness; a little bit of relief; a sense of release and freedom.  It was a little bit unsettling.

I’m not sure what precipitated that dream.  Maybe it had something to do with the workshop I gave this week where I discussed how I use my real life events and create fictional stories out of them.  During the workshop, I discussed one of my stories and the true story on which it was based.  I also mentioned that I wrote a personal essay about the true story.  Someone asked me which helped explore my feelings about the incident, the fictional piece or the essay.  After thinking about it for a few seconds, I said that I found the personal essay to be a better vehicle for exploring my feelings because I could really tell the truth about the incident for the first time.  I felt a stronger sense of catharsis after writing the essay than the short story.  Of course, I wrote the story about 6 years ago and I wrote the essay about a month ago, so the feelings I explored in the essay are more immediate.  In truth, after writing the essay, I really felt as if I could let go of the incident for probably the first time in my life.

What is this incident you ask?  Well, when I was in high school, there was a boy who was in my circle of friends that I had a crush on.  Before I could really have a chance to find out if he felt the same or go through the normal teenage process of having a crush and getting over it when you find out that he does not feel the same, he died.  He was riding his bike and made an illegal turn the wrong way down a one way street and was hit by an oncoming van.

I can honestly say that I never really got over that.  While it has been many, many years since I actively thought about him every day, I know that the incident has affected me my entire life.  Somehow, writing all of my feelings down and sharing the essay with others seemed to lift this invisible cloud I have been living under.  I suddenly feel open to life and the possibilities that it holds.  I have not felt way in a very long time.

My friends have commented on the change in me too.  I know that losing 97 pounds has a lot to do with that change.  They know that I am writing more, walking more, getting out into the world, etc.  A friend of mine told me recently that it’s as if the extra weight was pushing me down, keeping me from living my life.  She talked about how I am much more confident and happy.

Also during the workshop, I share an embarrassing amount of personal information about myself.  I have felt a little bit self-conscious about that, I have to admit.  It could not be helped.  When one is discussing how they use their personal life to create fiction, one ends up talking about their personal life.  I talked about the bullying that I went through as a child in school.  I talked about the death of my friend.  I talked about changing schools.  I talked other childhood friends I have had.  So, I guess it’s not such a stretch that I would dream about my old house and about saying goodbye to old ghosts.

Now back to the link above and the strangeness of today…

I guess I have been sorting out all of these feelings all morning.  First, I realized that I left my iPhone charger at work.  So, I had to go out and get a new chord for the i5 because all of my i3 phone cords do not fit the i5.  Irritating.  I went to Target to see if they had any cords.  They claim to sell accessories for the i5.  Well, I should say that I went there against my better judgement.  I should have known better after their insult to fat people incident.  I had vowed never to shop there again after the manatee gray dress event.  I already hate their selection of plus sized clothes, did they really need to add further insult to injury?  Well, I should have stuck with my initial instinct, which was not to shop at Target for anything.

I walked over to the electronics section, where all of the sales people were all playing with a scaffold staircase thingy that moves up and down to allow them to reach stuff on higher shelves.  So, ten people standing around goofing off and not one of them came over to help me.   Finally, someone did.

When I asked him about cords for the i5, he proceeded to lecture me about being sure that I use only Apple products.  He then further explained how the i5 has a magnetic connection and why it is important to use their products on the phone.

Don’t care.  Not what I was asking.  I only wanted to know, did they have an Apple i5 cord to sell me.  I tried to interrupt him several times to find this out, but he was on a mission apparently.  Finally, I just talked over him, and said, “Fine! Fine! Do you have one?”  At which point he just laughed and said, “No, we’ve been sold out for weeks.”

Seriously?  Was the diatribe necessary?  Couldn’t he have just told me that upfront?  I was never asking about any other type of cord.  I really hate it when I ask for something, and the idiot guy working in the store feels he needs to explain to the stupid woman why she does not want what she came in for.  I was really irritated after that.  I was hoping to avoid going to the Apple store.  I did not want to go there.  The store is in Clarendon.  The traffic sucks and I usually have to pay for parking.  It’s a mess.  But, I did it.  I have my cord and can charge my phone.

In truth, I was probably still feeling the effects of my dream and the strange feelings I had when I got up this am.  But, now I have had some coffee, had my protein snack, and I am at my new favorite cafe writing.  I am already starting to feel better.

To Speak Or Not To Speak, That Is The Question

When I was younger, say 7th grade through my whole entire life, I was very bad at public speaking.  My teachers always made us get up in front of class and do a prepared speech every year.  I fretted about this pretty much from the second they announced we had to do this.  No matter how much I prepared or practiced, I would stand up in front of the class and shake, sweat, stammer, and be almost to the point of tears when I had to give my speech.  I was so nervous and shy that the thought of talking in front of people made me physically ill.

I was a little bit better in high school and college, but not by much.  As a working adult, I have had to get up and speak many times in meetings.  I have led training classes, taught diversity classes, given talks at client meetings, etc.  Nothing really big.  I think the largest group I talked to was about 50 people at a client meeting. 

The client meeting was a funny experience.  I was the only travel agent for this particular group of travelers.  My client contact had given me a list of the travelers’ concerns before the meeting.   I was ready and armed with responses for them.   I had heard horror stories about past client meetings and how these travelers were very unhappy with us.  I was nervous, but I was totally prepared. 

Basically, I won them all over.  I let them know that I understood how hard their job was, traveling all of the time, spending most of their time overseas.  I told them I wanted to make their travel easier.  I gave them all new profile forms and asked for all of their updated travel information so that they always got their miles, etc.  I joked with them.  At the end of the meeting, they all came up to me one by one to tell me how happy they were.  I chatted with each of them briefly before leaving the meeting.

In the car on the way back to the office, the sales manager for my company told me she never saw anything like that.  She said that all previous meetings were so stressful.  “You had them eating out of your hands!”  She went back to our director and told her how the meeting went.   The director sent me a nice email and ended it saying, “You must be a natural public speaker.” 

I nearly died laughing.  If she only knew.

Tonight I am leading a discussion at my writer’s group.  I talk to the writer’s group every week from the safe confines of my chair.  I always have an opinion and I share it without hesitation.  I have to admit though, I am quite nervous.  I am sure I will be fine.  I am prepared.  I created an outline and wrote down my comments.  Read articles over and over.  I bought a new dress and new shoes.  I fixed my hair.  I feel I am totally ready. 

I’m not expecting the wild success I experienced at my client meeting, but I’m sure I will do just fine.  Nonetheless, any time I have to get up and speak in front of a group, even people I know, see, and talk to every week, that scared, shy, nervous young girl sneaks up on me and says, “Noooooooo!”