I was nervous today to go back to my high school and say a few words about the International Baccalaureate program (an advanced high school curriculum) to sophomores considering participating their junior and senior years. The event itself was actually super lame and I could care less about what people from my high school think of me. No, what scares me is speaking publicly.
But if Buddy the Elf has taught me anything, it’s that talking to myself is really no different from talking to a group of over a hundred.
I’m terrified to speak publicly not because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing. I am more afraid of not saying the right thing.
Will they be bored, will I lose their attention, will I fail to capture with precision the complexity of my thoughts? Will they leave inspired, changed, affected? Public speaking scares me because I feel there is so much that needs to be said, and there are excellent ways of transferring those thoughts and ideas to others. If I fail, I am not failing myself, but the idea.
I have always felt more comfortable conveying my thoughts through writing. I can reread it, change it, mold it to align perfectly with my ideas and intentions. When speaking aloud, I have only a moment to make people feel something. And that terrifies me.
However lame, the speech today still mattered to me because I was aware of the potential effect of my words on the lives of these sophomores. I wanted to convey powerfully how inspiring the program can be, and how much it can change you if you open your mind and expand your comfort zone.
I am not the strongest speaker, therefore I do three things: I start every presentation by wearing a killer outfit, telling a joke, and picturing everyone naked.
Today, I think it worked like a charm.