Some fear it, some love it, some have absolutely zero feelings about it.
I can’t say that I have always been one to love it.
I can’t say that I have always been one to want to do it.
That said I don’t remember a time that I did not enjoy being in front of an audience, whether doing school reports, or stage plays, or musicals, or of course playing in the band. There is an amazing exchange of energy when you get up in front of a group of people.
It even happened to me at the karaoke bar on Saturday (it’s not often that I do the karaoke thing, but when I do I like to go all out, most of you will never see it.)
It’s one thing to get up in front of an audience and perform, it is entirely another to speak publicly.
At least I think there is a huge difference.
As a kid doing a school report your are typically just sharing facts in whatever order your mom laid them out in your report for you, no sweat.
As an actor in a play or musical you are taking on a whole other persona, you aren’t yourself anymore, you are the character, so even mistakes can be worked into your character. (I once had a fake mustache that would not stay on my face, so constant mustache grooming became a tic that my character had)
Playing in the band is kind of like acting, it’s a level more personal because I typically only play songs I had a hand in creating, but I can still hide behind the guitars and the drums and the overall vibe of playing rock music.
Karaoke is the easiest of these to do, because it is the friendliest audience, you can screw up and no one cares, and to be entirely fair, I am a good singer so even if I bomb some part of the song I will be alright for 80% of the tune. Which is pretty good karaoke odds.
But public speaking?
That takes more out of me than anything else.
Because I am doing the vulnerability thing by sharing something I created, and make no mistake the writing of a speech is a creative endeavor, especially if you are trying to entertain your audience and teach.
And being vulnerable is fine for me playing music because as I said I can hide in the song.
When I speak publicly I have no such protections.
It’s just me.
And my ideas.
And my voice.
But I love it, and I crave getting better at it (hence my membership and activity in Toastmasters for so many years) and I have tried to pinpoint when it was that I really saw public speaking as something I wanted to do.
And if I had to create a post hoc explanation for my love of standing in front of a group of people and spilling my heart and guts in front of them?
It would be a PBS special I saw in my mid 20’s
It would be Wayne Dyer.
It was called The Power of Intention.
I watched him take ideas that were wildly “out there” ideas about metaphysics for which I have never been able to find solid science backed evidence.
Ideas that can only be considered “woo.”
And he presented them in such a way that I didn’t care about the evidence.
I just loved the message.
And it resonated with me.
I watched the way he walked, the way he used his hands, when he chose to hold still.
I listened to his vocal variety, the cadence and timbre of his voice.
I studies as he told stories that helped his audience to understand the bigger picture of what he was wanting to teach them.
I watched as he, a master of his craft, wove a tapestry of ideas so compelling that I have bought every book he has ever written, and listened to almost every audio program he ever released. (even some of those old 6 cassette programs)
And I said to myself.
I want to do that.
And now as I look into my future, I see a lot of things, but among them I see the potential that 25 year old me saw, I see the potential that I have put off until fairly recently.
And I say to myself…
I want to do that.
So I do.