Saturday, March 22, 2008

Get Out of that Comfort Zone - Public Speaking


I have always HATED public speaking. I rarely raised my hand to answer questions in class because of that. I also rarely gave my opinions, for the same reason. I was fine with small groups or when I knew everyone well. When I got to business school, I was outta luck. I had to speak in class - it was mandatory. Yup, cold calling. And I dreaded it. And probably because of that, I got called on more often than not. There was one class in particular, my finance class, that I remember with dread to this day. The professor had this Excel spreadsheet with all of our names on a sheet. He would hold down the arrow key and the highlighted cell would cycle through all of our names. And when he lifted his finger, that's who had to answer the question. He called it the God machine. I can't tell you how many times my name came up. Man... I dreaded that class.

Now that the God machine is behind me, I've found myself in situations where I used to be uncomfortable. Presenting to investors or pitching our business would have normally made me uncomfortable. I've found that I'm getting very used to speaking in public. I guess it's a practice thing or being comfortable with the situation or material. Or maybe the fact that I'm just getting older. In any event, it's been good practice to get out of my comfort zone.