Wednesday, 15 March 2017

An Unusual Job

Mylor Creek on a misty, sunny afternoon several weeks ago now. Perhaps we have had some sun after all - just not in the last few weeks!

I had a phone call out of the blue the other day, from someone asking if I’d help her write a biography for a presentation she has to give. Somewhat bemused, I said yes, I’d certainly help if I could, and only later asked her how she’d found me. On a website of Cornish speakers, apparently.

I still wasn’t too sure what this work would involve, but we agreed a fee and earlier this week she came to see me. It transpires she has to give a talk at a conference of some 3,000 people and is terrified. Would I be able to help her write her biography and give any tips about giving a presentation?

So we sat down and I made notes, then typed as much as I could, while she was there, to get the flavour of her words, who she is as a person. I’ve worked on it and sent it back to her, and we’ll do that back and forth until we’re both happy with it.

I remember practising my first talk, being terrified. Slow down, said a friend. Don’t gabble (we all do when we’re nervous). Make eye contact. Smile. Include humour. If things go wrong, don’t worry, work that into the script - just talk as you go along.

The first time I sang in public in my smaller group (being in a large choir is much less daunting), I was convinced I would dry up and no sound would come out of my mouth. In fact I sang fine, but my legs were shaking so much I literally thought I was going to fall over. The second time I sang in public, with three of us, I didn’t really know the song, having been drafted in at the last minute. I had a complete blank, forgot my notes, and laughed. So did everyone else. We started again and it was fine. And after that, I’m not paralysingly nervous any more. I’ve had lots of other things go wrong, but tell the audience what they are, and include them in whatever’s going on. After all, it gets boring if things go according to plan all the time.

But back to this job, and I realised, I love this work! I’ve always said my dream job would be Desert Island Discs - all that research and then interviewing people would be just up my street. And I love radio. But doing this is a good second best!

So if you know anyone who has to write a biographical presentation, and needs help, please point them in my direction!


Dc said...

I once had to give a presentation to my son's old school on war rations, including food. I sounded like Mickey Mouse to me! Still hate talking in public presentations.

Flowerpot said...

DC - I don't mind doing them now but some are better than others! I did one talk where they fed me beforehand and I felt I did a really lousy talk. They bought quite a lot of books actually, but I wasn't happy with it. Think I rushed it.

ADDY said...

I hate public speaking. My lips become rubbery and I stumble over words. I feel as if I am going to faint. It used to be a major part of my job at one stage and I used to go sick on those days as I was literally terrified. Even at Al-anon meetings when we used to speak individually in a group about our take on a particular subject I used to hate it and could not relax (which was the whole object of the exercise of sharing our experiences). Well done, if you can do it.

Flowerpot said...

Strange how we're all so different isn't it Addy? just as well we are! I dont mind it now - if I'm in the right mood. But I know just how you feel....

Chris Stovell said...

Good for you - it's quite a skill to stand up and talk in front of other people. The first time I did it at the RNA conference I dried up completely but my audience was very kind and stuck with me. I suppose it's something to bear in mind that most people don't actually want you to stand there mortified and will throw you a line.
Sorry not to have caught up sooner - I do hope the frozen shoulder has thoroughly thawed out now! Cx

Flowerpot said...

chris - it's such a relief when the audience is kind isn't it?! Yes, my shoulder's much better thanks. X