Contrary to popular belief, one gets more nervous about talking in public as he or she gains more public speaking experience. This is the state I am in now. In two days, I am competing in a Toastmasters contest and I am, for the first time in years, feeling nervous about it.
In the past, I used to pride myself on my ability to just talk in public without preparation. My case of verbal diarrhea is severe enough to allow me to stand up in front of a crowd and say something coherent enough and presentable. However, this is not enough for me this year. As I speak more in public, I tend to set higher standards for myself. It isn’t a question of pride but rather of self-respect and responsibility. I call myself an advanced speaker so I just feel I can’t give a half good speech. This in itself, makes me worried about the way I will perform on Saturday.
Over the years, I have come to believe that the minute one decides to stand in front of a crowd, he or she has to say something of value. The people there are waiting to hear the speaker’s words, so these words must mean something. I also believe that the minute one decides to compete, then he or she must make the effort to practice. My problem is that I won a contest before, so I feel that I can’t go back to being the speaker who is just trying.
So, for the first time in years, I am nervous. I am nervous because people are telling me that of course I will win. I am nervous because my mentees are listening to me, and I am nervous because I am afraid that I won’t live up to the image of public speaking know how, people believe I have.
It is not true that competing gets easier over the years. In fact, as we gain experience we come to expect more of ourselves and people come to expect more of us. Any self-respecting person will try his or her best not to do a bad job at this. After all, making a fool out of myself, is something I genuinely don’t aspire for.
So. for the first time in years I’m actually worried about the Area speech contest in Toastmasters. I don’t even know how to go about it. Thankfully, tomorrow I will get a chance to practice. Wish me luck.