Presentation woes

Sometimes I wonder if I have accidentally turned back time. Because the last time I was coerced into facing an audience and doing something I really loathed, was in school. Many moons ago, might I add. So long ago, that I had happily forgotten what it actually felt like. The intense irritation at being forced to do something against my will. That completely overwhelming chain of emotions, starting with a speck of ire, which I’d always brush aside telling myself “It’s not time yet. We can be angry later.”, which only simmers beneath the surface and turns into deep-seated anger and finally just rage. Pure and simple rage that I can’t blink back easily. I have never been good at containing these emotions and fearing that I might erupt at an inopportune time and place, I tend to shut up altogether. Lest I let it slip, just how mad I really am.

I’ve been through this right through school and college. Remember those blasted “extra-curricular” activities? The ones that pretended to give everyone their fair share of the limelight? When actually all they did was push and shove children into doing silly things. Like dancing. Singing. Participating in a debate. I hated them. With a vengeance.

I was never a performer. Never was. Never have been. And all through my growing-up years I’ve acknowledged that there are all kinds of children that make up this motley world. Some of us are vibrant, vivacious, loud, have a presence, have a gift of the gab, can talk our way through any situation. For some, the world is a stage. For me, not quite. I have never been any of those things. I was always happy to be a team player. Work my ass off in the wings. Make things happen, rather than be the one in the spotlight. And this is true off-stage, in real life too.

So when recent events at work pushed me into making a presentation at our every day “Morning Meeting” (basically the whole organisation gets together, and one person shares a quick update on pretty much anything relevant to us/our work/our industry), I had an instant flashback of all those same feelings. It was a repeat of school plays and Annual Days all over again. Those dreaded selections, where we were basically just told what we had to do. And I’d begin a dreadful countdown to the day I would go make an ass of myself, in front of a mic.

When that happens, I usually want to rebel, but this time the combination of the absurdity of the situation coupled with the instant flashback, pushed so far into a corner I couldn’t get out of it. I’d avoided making this presentation for a year now. Always assuming that this is an organisation of grown individuals. If someone is willing to and wishes to share something of value, the Morning Meeting is a great place to do it. Where is the sense in forcibly pushing someone to do it? But clearly, there is something I have not understood. So when I was told I simply had to make a presentation, I decided there’s no escaping it, I might as well make my peace with it and move on.

The last time I was coerced into facing an audience and doing something I really loathed, was in school. Many moons ago. Today I was in the same spot again. My second forced attempt. Outwardly I joke about it. Pretend everything is awesome. But inside, as time catches up, it continues to seethe. Last night, I went home in a funk. Pissed at putting the presentation together. “5 tips on web-writing,” I laughed to myself. Then I tossed and turned right through 6 hours of disturbed sleep, wondering why I’m going through with this. I had dream-like visions of confronting the Powers that be, rebelling against the coercion. But a dream is what it is. And what it shall remain too. In reality this seemingly petty and insignificant issue has already been blown way out of proportion. It makes me not want to bring it up anymore. Not throw it up for discussion.

Instead, I writhe under the pressure. And think maybe I really am back in school again.


4 thoughts on “Presentation woes

  1. aw! if public-speaking is not for you, then it must be really difficult to get through.
    I’m quite okay with them, though only after plenty of practicing done in front of mirrors and in the shower and while staring at the ceiling the night before my presentation. But after a LOT of preparation, the next day it goes pretty smoothly, cos you’re basically just going through the motions. It also helps to know that the people around me don’t know as much as I do. They don’t know what’s on the presentation, so they don’t know if I mess up! :P

    So, practice practice practice! that’s the mantra that worked for me.

      1. :) Yeah, in that case… not much you can do I suppose!
        I’m a leo! I take to center stage like a duck to water! (until my alternate personality kicks in and I blend in with the furniture!)

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