After writing the tale of The Nobber and the saga of the Best-Man demotion I did realise the one thing I was most disappointed at regarding the whole saga. Not being able to do a Best Man speech.
I’ve been blessed with the confidence to stand up in front of others and talk, and I get a real kick out of doing it. When the chance to perform to an audience arises I may act all coy to begin with, but that is my natural Britishness coming out because I don’t want to seem to eager to put my hand up and do something I might be good at.
Being denied this opportunity was the one part that hurt the most, in fact during the demotion process I was once asked by the Future Mrs N to submit my proposed speech for approval like it was some kind of financial promotion for an insurance company. There was no way this was going to happen as it breaks the sacred bond between groom and best-man, and probably added to the reasons for my sudden dismissal.
At school I loved public speaking, and had the techniques nailed. A pair of glasses to remove at an important point? Check. Rhetorical statements? Check. Hand gestures to direct the thinking? Check. It was a role to play, and as I enjoy AmDram it was another outlet for my desire to perform to an audience (but without the problem of sharing the stage with others).
I should have plenty of chances to do the same at work. As an analyst I often have to present to seniors my work, but this is a different situation. Whereas public speaking involves an attentive audience doing presentations at work requires a much more flexible approach. You may have devised an amazing presentation with Jobs-like attention to detail with an engrossing narrative but as soon as you show the first slide you get bombarded with a hundred questions.
You start with, “We looked at customers…” and then:
“Where is the data from”
“Over how long”
“What did you find”
It doesn’t matter that these questions are answered on slides 3, 4, 6 and 9 they want to know now. I imagine these people sit down to watch Lord of the Rings and immediately demand to know what the ring is made of, how long it will take to destroy it, what other destruction alternatives there are and what happens in the end. I guess that the only way to kill these people would be to put them in front of Lost and watch their internal logic fail at all the unanswered plot points.
This is why one of my fondest memories of my wedding is doing the speeches, as I told the attentive guests “I get to speak as long as I want, and this determines when you get to eat”. Never has an audience hung on every word.
Are you comfortable in front of people, or does the idea of public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?
Source: Naked with Black Socks