The seats were in a horseshoe style. We used a handheld microphone. I couldn’t follow along in my packet to see which slide my boss was on or else I would count how many were left before I started my part.
My heart did its obligatory dance in my chest before I approached the screen.
I kept refering to the screen when I should have glanced at the laptop.
I felt myself stutter at one point and then spit out my words.
I tried making eye contact and the voice in my head kept overshadowing what I wanted to say next with “You’re doing it! You’re doing it! You’re talking in front of all these execs and they are watching you and that zit on your cheek, all while donning your silky blouse that you think makes you look fun.”
And then? Just as I got comfortable with the next slide, there were no more. Of course, my presentation was the quickest with only a handful of slides. I was back at my seat.
The distractions of people’s tired faces, busy mouths from the buffet they visited just outside the door, and the way my mind goes blank when I am nervous as if I’m seeing these slides for the first time when I’ve been reading and reviewing them all during the Thanksgiving break, on the train, and now, defeated me. I felt like I could have nailed it better.
Where were the damn skills I learned in my public speaking class? Why was I so nervous?
I’m sure there will be a next time, but for now, I’m safe in the chair behind my desk far from the stares of strangers who sit safely in another state.