I’m one of the worst public speakers I know. I dare say the very worst.
I don’t understand this about myself. It’s not that I don’t know how to communicate. I’m fine one on one. And I think I write fairly lucidly, so I don’t think it’s just that I can’t put things into words. And I’m fine in front of crowds for other things. Like, I don’t think I ever get nervous leading worship. I’ve done the praise night thing or whatever in front of hundreds of people, and no big deal. So it’s not the crowds that bother me either; I have no problem playing in front of a crowd.
But as soon as I have to talk in front of a crowd, it gets ugly. My face gets flushed, I get all nervous, my voice gets tight, and I get on the verge of tears. And I’m using “crowd” very loosely. Like, more than 6 people. Happens at work all the time, in larger meetings. Happens sometimes at church when I decide to say something while leading. Even happens once in a while during small group, with fewer than a dozen people there, people I know fairly well. It’s obviously some sort of mental/emotional block, and it’s awful. I’ve strongly considered doing Toastmasters or something to get over it.
It happened again to me last week; Josh Kw@n invited me to this random meeting with these amazing Christians who are all involved with online efforts to further the Kingdom. Some heavyweights; all amazing people. I have no idea why he wanted me there.
The meeting started off with everyone introducing themselves and saying something most people don’t know about you. Both questions stressed me out, because I had no good reason to be there, and there’s nothing interesting I could say for the second question. I ended up saying I’ve never seen a complete episode of Friends or American Idol. A terrible answer for a couple reasons. One, I’m not completely sure it’s true, although it might be. But I also think I misjudged my audience. They were some hard-core Christians, and based on their response to what I said, I think most of them haven’t ever watched these shows either. Some of them might never have even heard of them. Whoops.
I made it through the rest of the night without saying anything, until the very end, when the moderator directly called on me, and I stuttered through an answer, nearly crying as usual. Man. It was particularly severe because I was intimidated by the heavyweights in the room (e.g. D@ve Gibb0ns. Seriously, no idea why I was there). I spent the rest of the evening regretting both things I said. I need to write an email to address the second, but I can’t address the first, and it’s still bothering me so much that I’m going to do a do-over here. So an interesting thing about me is:
The glasses I’m wearing right now are chipped, the result of a chess accident. I was playing a version of team chess, and my team won. In celebration, we attempted a high-five, but missed, and my partner ended up knocking my glasses to the ground, where one lens got chipped. Breaking my glasses due to chess – about the nerdiest mishap I can imagine, and it happened to me. 100% true story.
Incidentally, Josh has the best job ever. He basically finds Christian causes to give money to and networks organizations to work together. And he works for David We3kley. Based on the good stuff he’s doing, I urge Houstonians to feel good about buying / owning a David We3kley Home.