Thursday, May 30, 2013

Turn The Speakers Up.

I always hoped that if I was ever asked to speak in front of a very large audience, it would be on a topic that I was very knowledgeable and passionate about, like how much I love Phil Collins. 
Hell, I could talk for a full day alone on how 'Easy Lover' is such an amazing song. Alas, the world does not always spin in my direction, and my very first public speaking engagement had nothing to do with 80's pop sensations, but rather barriers to health care. 
Are you still awake? Good. I know low-income health solutions are not the world's most interesting topic, but it's a fight I've been fighting for six whole years, and something I believe in with my whole heart. I spent hours and hours perfecting a speech, and performed it, last night, for 350 local physicians and clinic staff. 
I'm not sure why I ever agreed to speak in the first place. I am terrified of crowds and my regular, everyday voice is barely above a whisper. I guess I was flattered that they asked me. I should have known I was in over my head when I had to Google speech-writing. I can recall, in elementary school, writing the book report to end all book reports. I had a lot of faith in the material I had written, but as soon as the teacher mentioned that the report would have to be read aloud in front of the class, I faked a sore throat and went home to watch Sally Jesse Raphael. 
Last evening, on the way to the venue, I was sure I was going to pass out, throw up, or some sort of horrible combination of the two. I was offered a free dinner, which I have never turned down in my life, but I could hardly eat. They called my name to the podium, and the rest is a blur. I may or may not have been conscious for the majority. I don't know. They say that a great way of combating nervousness is to picture the audience naked, but they could have actually removed all of their clothes, and I wouldn't have known. Hell, I could have been naked myself and I wouldn't have had a clue. I finished, and a warmth spread over me as applause filled the room. I forgot, for a very brief moment, that I was in front of 350 people. Note that I said 'brief'.

Two days ago, somebody asked me if I was excited about my speaking engagement, and I told them I was not excited about the speech, just excited for it to be over. I threw my tattered notes in the garbage as I left the building, and vowed to, next time, think a little more carefully before I agree to things.

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