Public Speaking is Fun…Right?

So Greek Week has just ended, as well as the Phi Sigma Kappa Open House (which was a lot of fun). What did that mean for Katherine? A 2-hour afternoon nap while trying to catch up on reading, of course.

This is my second semester working as the Greek Week/Homecoming Advisor and, naturally, I have learned a lot about myself and coordinating events for hundreds of people. You know, no big deal.

One event that posed some problems was our Game Night. After some finagling (even though that’s not the appropriate word here, I just wanted to use it), we managed to put something together at the last minute.

Since I had spent the most time putting the questions together, I volunteered to MC for Game Night.

Worst. Decision. EVER.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem speaking in front of people. Growing up, I was rather shy, awkward, and selectively extroverted—you know, only with the people I really grew to know. But when I discovered theater and acting, this gave me a way to be in front of large groups of people without the nerves attached.

Cast of "The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever," 2004. You'll find me dead center, red sweater, playing the mom. Which I now do in real life. Kind of.

Well, obviously there were still nerves. But acting allows you to become someone else, so that when you’re on stage, the audience is not seeing Katherine, but Indian #2 in Peter Pan, Uncle Sam in The King and I, Lenny in Crimes of the Heart, Grace Bradley in The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever, and extras in a half dozen musicals. (Yes, these are all roles I played). The only play where I was “Katherine” was School House Rock! But even then. When you’re on stage in a play, you become someone else, and the audience sees you as someone else.

So, even though theater loosened my nerves considerably when it comes to talking in front of large groups of people, I have since discovered (thank you, Greek Week) that there is a MAJOR difference between talking in front of a large group of people as yourself and as a character in a play. And I think I far prefer the latter.

I won’t go into details, but let’s just say Game Night was a bit flawed. At times, I felt like middle school Katherine who used to get picked on (not a lot—but some) because I was clearly that quiet, push-over, nice kid in the classroom. Especially when I accidentally said “STD” instead of “SDT” for Sigma Delta Tau sorority. But, in my defense, I was in the Sigma Tau Delta English Fraternity in college—so we were STD.

Another "performance;" Kappa Delta's Variety Show, 2007. We did a Sister Act theme and Amanda and I rapped the "You down with G.O.D." part in "Joyful, Joyful." Coincidentally, our Variety Show was a similar idea to Greek Week skits.

I eventually passed the mic on because it was not enjoyable. After the fact, I was reminded of this time in high school where I was selected to go to this leadership day in Nashville with other high school students from my hometown. It was an enjoyable day, until I was one of the people randomly selected—of course—to participate in a debate in front of the entire audience of high schoolers.

Again, let’s just say it didn’t go well.

I’m pretty good at talking to people one-on-one, and I believe I was a good teacher. I do fine speaking and presenting at conferences. In fact, I enjoy it. I love reading my creative writing in front of others. It seems that I do fine with groups of 30-50 people. But, when it grows larger than that, it gets bad. When it’s 200-500 people with all of their eyes trained on you, then you’re expected to be pretty much perfect when you have that mic in your hand. I think I can finally say I understand why Anne Hathaway was such a flop at the Oscars—she wasn’t playing a role, she was playing Anne, and that was different than acting.
Of course, I’m just guessing this—Anne and I aren’t exactly pals, other than the fact that I read The Princess Diaries series WAAAAYYY before they became movies.

A reading at SEMO, Spring 2011. I do pretty well with these. Otherwise I wouldn't be laughing so much.

And let me just pause and say I never win anything cool. When it’s a draw for free things, I don’t win. Except for the time I won a 13-inch TV in middle school and sold it to a friend for $10. But when it’s public speaking in front of a lot of people, of course I win. Naturally.

So, to add to all the things I have learned about myself in this job over the past year (blog post to come), we’ll add “Need more lessons speaking in front of 100s of people.” Especially college students. Lots of college students. Who don’t know me and have no problem getting an attitude with someone they don’t know. We’ll leave it at that.

If anything, it was another sobering reminder of how long it really has been since I was in college. That, and my friend Mary Beth attending Greek Week skits and reporting that I have the funniest job ever.
But that’s kinda true. The guys in my house make me laugh on a daily basis.

And we’ll push #2 and #10 from 25 Life Goals from a 25 Year Old to the front of the list. Not that I am super bad in these areas. I just have room to grow in these two, for sure.

But, as a side note, I had a fabulous time meeting parents and alumni today at the PSK Open House. One of the alumni was the President of the Maryland Senate, which I didn’t realize until after I met him. You know, NBD. But 50% of the parents/alumni said to me “You’re so brave” and the other 50% said “Back in our day, House Mothers were a lot younger….” Either way, I love this job. I have been so blessed with Phi Sigma Kappa moving in, and I mean it to.
And if any PSK’s are reading this, it’s okay to blush. 

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2 thoughts on “Public Speaking is Fun…Right?

  1. I’m also not a fan of public speaking. Something about having a crowd of people staring at me makes me freeze and choke on my words.

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