Thursday, September 04, 2008

Scout the Public Speaker

So, I was sitting there minding my own business when the phone rang, but this time it wasn't the manager of the grocery store. This time it was a woman representing the county writers' guild. I love that we have one, but I have never given a thought to joining. I don't know why.

This woman, Ms. Snodgrass, which is the greatest name I have ever heard, has been reading my editorials in Small Town's newspaper and has been impressed. She asked if I would consider being the guest speaker at the guild's September meeting. humina humina humina

Let me tell you about me and public speaking. I was a shy child and did not like having to stand up in front of people and speak. That did not change by the time I was a student in high school. I was forced to give speeches in my language classes, and I did whatever I could to escape the torment.

I remember in my freshman year when our huge class of about 300 students was divided by possible grade—if you put off your assignments a certain length of time, there was no way you could get more than a C regardless of your work, so you would be put in a class room with C students, as an example. In that language class, I was usually with the A students, but when speech time came, I let myself be shuffled around until I was finally put in a corner room with the D students, the ones who looked and acted like Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. There I was with the boys and girls who normally frightened me in the hallways and in the park after school when they were sneaking joints and planning secret parties.

I have to say they were the nicest and most accepting bunch of kids I had ever spent time with, and they were so supportive of me when I finally stood up and gave my speech with trembling hands and what felt like a wad of cotton in my mouth. A friend recently used the phrase "tightening colon" when referring to nervousness on stage. Nervousness in a speech class has the same effect.

Later in high school, I had to give a speech for a teacher that would not allow anyone to postpone their assigned delivery date. So, when it was my turn to speak, I worked up a fever, went to the school nurse, and was sent home for the day. That's how well I handled public speaking in those days.

I'm not sure I have outgrown this abhorrence for speech giving, but the charm of Ms. Snodgrass led me to accept her challenge. I am mulling over an outline, but presently I have no idea what I will say to these people, all fifteen to twenty of them. I hear they have snacks at these meetings, and I am considering slipping some whiskey in my tea right before I am introduced. If nothing else, that should solve the cotton-mouth dilemma.

7 comments:

dive said...

Snodgrass? SNODGRASS?
How tewwibly English, Robyn!
You've come a long way since school and you're now well used to being on stage in front of lots of people so you'll do fine. The female Garrison Keillor.
Plus you have a lovely voice with fine projection. I can still hear it in my head, as we entered the Elizabethan Paintings room in the Tate Gallery and you yelled "Hey! That man's got no trousers on!"
Hee hee.

Alifan said...

I remember that as well.. two minds saw that at the same time......cannot believe you had not noticed before...
good luck Robyn .....you will be wonderful as usual...

Miz Minka said...

Oh my. It's much easier for me to sing in front of a group of people than to give a speech. I think I'd rather go to the dentist than give a speech. Well, but kudos to you for s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g youself!! I don't know about the voice part because I've never heard yours, but I agree with Dive that you've come a long way since high school, baby. ;) You'll do great!

PF said...

miz minka said it well. I, too, would MUCH rather sing than speak in front of a group. So glad people are noticing your writings, Robyn!! You go, girl!!

Shan said...

OH I CAN SO RELATE WITH THIS ONE ROBYN! I was interrupted yesterday while reading of your speaking avoidance so I wanted to get back here and give you an encouraging whoop.

You are not the girl of yesteryear. You are woman, hear yourself roar? It might even help to pretend like you are a teacher and you're giving some college freshmen your best seasoned advice on how to write in the real world. I don't know. My colon is tightening at the mere thought that someone would ask the same of me. They won't, but I have a vivid imagination I'm afraid.

I actually blame my whole college failure on Public Speaking 101. After my third year at JBU as a Broadcasting major, I had had ENOUGH awkward times in front of a camera and I wasn't about to take a class where I'd have to actually come up with my own subject and wax on authoritatively about it. I just can't pull that off without doing physical harm to myself. So I changed schools and majored in Nursing.
Little did I know algebra and chemistry would become my new "speech" class.
You are clearly not spun from the same weak fibers from which I was made. You have evolved, and you WILL PREVAIL!! :D

Shazza said...

Isn't public speaking one of the top 10 worst fears for most people?

I think most people are very appreciative of a guest speaker and if they have ever tried it they know how hard it is.

Relax...be yourself and just talk about what you know and you'll be fine!

Break a leg!

Lulubelle B said...

I enjoy public speaking and thrive on the attention. Always have.

I may not have this common phobia, but I've got another that's unusual. See my Sept 4 post "Fear The Green" and be sure to read the comments back and forth with Dive.

Good luck with your meeting. You'll be fine.