Public speaking scares the shit out of me:
the audience members staring expectantly, nary an eye blinking; the grit on my sandpaper tongue course and abrasive against my soft palate.
My words roll out more and more rapidly, stumbling on top of each other incomprehensibly, punctuated by loud swallows and awkward breathing patterns.
“Just relax and try to envision your audience in their underwear.”
Now I am not only terrified of giving my speech, but confused as to why everyone can just sit there so confidently sans clothing. I mean, aren’t they cold?
I can feel the watery heat trespassing my ocular region at an alarming pace.
No! No! No!
I know once the tears push their way to the surface, I’m done. At that point, it will be impossible to communicate words through my blubbering face.
I’ll stop and take a slow deep breath to suppress the emotions that are threatening to steal my voice. I wonder if anybody would notice if I took 5 to 10 minutes to regroup. Maybe I could meditate for a bit.
After I somewhat pull myself together, I begin to focus primarily on the actual morphemes rather than the content, so that I can keep my hyper-sensitivity at bay. Doing so allows me to hear myself more clearly.
Ugh, you couldn’t PAY me enough to sit through this drivel.
Yet no one has left yet, quietly excusing themselves, mouthing the word “restroom,” then tiptoeing out, never to return to this epic shitshow. So, there IS that.
I need to reel my audience in with a little humor. I’ll tell a joke.
Crap, I don’t know a joke, uh…
“Kirsten who is currently paralyzed with fear at the thought of continuing to speak.”
Well, that didn’t go as I’d have liked.
I become more acutely aware of my hands. What do I USUALLY do with my fingers? Balling my fists seems too aggressive, but letting them hang limp like boiled fettuccine noodles only emphasizes my cowardice. I decide to let them fall “naturally” next to my body, but notice that in obsessing about my extremities, I’ve completely stopped talking. How long had it been?
I bring the paper up close to my face so my voice is muffled and difficult to make out, but at least I’m shielded from THEM. Next time, maybe I can just ask someone to speak on my behalf.