I won’t blame you if the word “naked” is what brought you here today.
Because I did the exact same thing. I saw “naked” and thought… “Sure naked is fine, but black socks? What the heck??”
I can’t say that I was always okay with public speaking, and to this day it’s not something I’m greatly comfortable with but am able to do without much trouble.
I can’t remember how long ago it was, but the first assignment I had that required a presentation had me shaking in my boots. As most projects during my early school years called for a group assignment, I usually sat in the back doing most of the physical work while someone else went up to present. Then there was that good old saying “just imagine them in their underwear and you’ll be fine.”
Who the heck came up with that idea? What makes you think that imagining a whole group of my peers in their underwear would make me feel any better? How would I even look out onto the audience if they were sitting there wearing absolutely nothing?! For God’s sake, just telling me that it took practice would’ve been the better answer but naked? underwear? Come on now!
The moment I dabbled with public speaking using that advice turned out for the worst. I stood up there with sweat pouring out of my head. I thought someone had dug up a fountain or something up there. My hands went clammy and the rest is just history. I remember looking around trying to imagine my peers in their underwear just like I’d been advised to. I couldn’t even pick up my head as the image started rolling through my mind. “How will I ever look at my classmates again? Does this make me some sort of creeper or a pervert? My teacher gave me the worst advice ever!”
I finished my presentation and walked back to my seat. I was pretty sure I needed a new shirt but I didn’t care. I couldn’t even remember the words I had spoken. Did I do a good job? Who the heck knows! I sure as hell don’t.
Ever watch those cartoons where the character tries the same thing but ends up being the one that’s in his/her underwear rather than the audience? You thought it was all made up right? Well it isn’t. My second attempt turned out that way just because I was so afraid of the thoughts that would formulate in my mind. I wanted to avoid the whole underwear situation all together but as I got ready to speak, I felt like everyone was looking right through me. Was I the one wearing just my underwear? Holy hell! My imagine warped my vision to see just that…second attempt was a real fail. Back to my seat I went. Cold sweat rolled down my face almost as if I had cried or something. How embarrassing.
Then as college rolled around these presentations came around a lot more often. Sure every time it happened I was nervous out of my mind but the whole underwear imagination thing never came back. Maybe it was trauma or some nonsense like that but the thought of it seemed to be completely blocked from my mind. Thank GOD! As nervous as I was, I seemed to take the initiative to go up. I wanted to get better. I wanted to do better. I couldn’t stand going up there to race through my words on a presentation I’d worked so hard on. Damn it! I’m better than this!
So up till now, I’ve gone through jobs that require speaking to strangers, that require me to call random people, that require me only to speak but also to connect with strangers and so forth. Maybe it was a subconscious move on my part that influenced me to work at such jobs in order to get over my shyness and my “stage fright.”
I’m grateful for those choices.
I can freely talk to strangers. I can freely give presentations. Business meetings and one on one interactions have become easy. I can tell you that it is not the naked audience in black socks that’ll help you, it’s more so the practice and the willing involvement in those types of situations that benefit you the most. Avoid the easy way out. Take the hard road because then it becomes your own skill rather than having taken the road that goes around it.