Friday, September 16, 2005

Is this thing on?

Although my experience with the microphone has been uneven, I am pretty comfortable with public speaking and all related activity.
It wasn't always thus. When I was in Grade 7 primary school, I was the oldest boy and so it fell to me to present a small gift to the sports coach who had come close to delivering us victory against much larger schools. The problem was that the coach also happened to be my Dad and I was unable to get past the problem of whether to call him Dad as I always did or, since I was speaking on behalf of the school, Mr ________.

On hitting high school the conflict between my awful shyness and my propensity to front up to the mic flourished. I read scripture at the compulsory hostel church assembly, I recited (my own) poetry at school gatherings, I joined Speech AND Drama classes as options. It seemed that I could divorce the nebbish who never chatted up girls he liked or made friends outside his circle from the tyro who could invent soliliquays on the spot.
The penguin ladies, female counterpart to Rostrum, used to gather at our recreation hall for their meets and a small group of us boys scammed attendance and joined in the merriment. Years later, while working for Immigration, I joined Rostrum officially; although I never cared for the business meeting component.

And then my friends started picking up instruments and needed someone to front their band. Since I was willing - and couldn't play - this naturally fell to me. Though it must be added that I couldn't sing either! But it was an early fortuitous introduction since I later took singing lessons and learned to write my own lyrics. My singing still tends to be better in rehearsal (and in the shower) than in front of a crowd but I enjoy it and it is a good skill to have. I can certainly deliver guide vocals to illustrate how a song should go.

My last contract assignment before starting my current employ consisted heavily of presenting material to various areas of the University and, only recently in my current role, I delivered a presentation to a visiting Thai delegation.

I'm rather grateful for this as I've heard it said that some fear death less than public speaking (!). More ham than Hamlet, I nonetheless relish the opportunity.


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