Spinach in My Teeth and Other Things I Found After Public Speaking

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I used to be afraid to speak in public.  Afraid to talk in front of crowds, afraid to make presentations, afraid to call strangers on the phone.  I recall the shakiness in my voice, the knots in my stomach and the sweat in my palms.

For the most part I could avoid situations that called for public speaking, except for when I was voted to make the call and order the flowers we wanted to give our choir teacher after our 7th grade performance.

I recall with clarity how I stood in the hallway of my childhood home, phone in hand, nervously slipping from my grip as my palms sweat from fear, “Um, Hi, Um…. I need some nice flowers… for a nice teacher… for our nice play.”  The woman on the other end took my order kindly, never making me feel a fool or ridiculous… like the child that I was.

“See,” my mother said, “… everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, just like you.  Just talk on the phone like you are talking to a friend”.  She was right, and eventually I got better.  I still was nervous from time to time, but even now my own children know my silly story of the “nice flowers”.

I have since created a career path for myself that constantly has me talking to strangers and presenting to large audiences.  My previous job had me on the phone constantly, calling strangers at Medicare, Medicaid, insurance companies, hospitals, and nursing homes, just to name a few.  If I wasn’t over my fear of speaking to strangers in public and on the phone by then, it sure was baptism by fire within the first 6 weeks.

Today I speak in front of large groups, corporate groups, CEO’s, big-wigs from international organizations and business owners.  I also get the honor of speaking and “edu-taining” (educating and entertaining)  C.N.A.’s, nurses and social workers almost daily.  I love doing it.  I have a wonderfully supportive business partner and improv partner who works hard each and everyday to “make me look good”.

We presented an 8 hour long session yesterday, brought some great ideas to the audience and made some wonderful connections.  The attendees had a good time, gave great reviews and have asked for more opportunities to see us.  It was not until 5:30 p.m. when the car was packed for the evening and the training session was over that I visited the restroom and found the spinach between my teeth.  Really?  Had it been there the entire afternoon?  Did I really smile with this “Popeye grin” for the last few hours?

Well, I picked the remnants of my green lunch from my teeth and moved on.  It may have been there and others may have seen it, but nonetheless, the show when on.  I had preformed as I always had, with my self-deprecating humor that I have learned “normalizes” the playing field.  We do ALL put our pants on one leg at a time and we ALL get spinach caught between our teeth.  Knowing that now has helped me create and find joy in what I do each and everyday.


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