Last week I was asked by one of my partners to talk to the attorneys at my firm about my blog.
His request set off a battle of conflicting voices within me.
The immediate – “OMG, I have to stand in front of 60 attorneys and talk about ME???”
Then, of course, the responsible … “LeeAnn, this would be good for you. You need to do this.”
And the rebel, “I am 45, I don’t need to do anything I don’t want to do.”
The insecurity came out with “no one is going to find this interesting.”
Apparently, the pleaser won the war, as I heard myself say, “if you would like me to do this, I will do so.”
In six (6) days (not that I am counting), I will stand in front of a large (in my opinion) group of attorneys and, for twelve (12) (not that I will be counting) minutes, their attention will be focused on … me.
I can hear many of you saying, “piece of cake” … “no problem” … “twelve minutes is nothing.”
Something is wrong with me then.
Seriously, even typing out this blog post is making me nervous.
It is not like I haven’t done it before. I have given speeches in the past on numerous occasions.
Some have been on topics absolutely foreign to me, such as the Georgia ad valorem taxes. (Thank you Marvin Fentress.) I prepared for months for the presentation and somehow muddled my way through it. I don’t remember anything about what I said, but I do remember having an out-of-body experience for much of the forty-five minutes.
I argued in front of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia as a second year attorney. Talk about stressful. It might as well have been in front of the Supreme Court. It was me, in front of a panel of
old distinguished judges, with a full courtroom behind me. I threw up both before and after the argument. (Luckily, neither time was in the actual courtroom.) I also tripped over someone’s briefcase on the way out. I ended up winning, but let me assure you, with no modesty involved, that my then three-year old nephew could have won the argument. It was a slam dunk case – which is why it was given to a second year associate.
I have spoken on topics dear to me, which is a little bit easier, but still incredibly nerve-wracking. Ironically after I decided that trial work was not for me, I gave a speech in front of the Michigan State Supreme Court Justices, the Governor of Michigan, and other politicians, accepting an honor on behalf of a loved one. I am pretty sure I visibly shook.
I am hoping that these past experiences make this one easier for me.
It is on a topic I know.
There will be no elected officials or esteemed jurists present.
I have learned my lessons and will not eat beforehand. I will clear my paths of obstacles.
I have tried all of the standard tips including employing yoga breathing and talking directly to one person. Frankly, there are only two things that seem to help me: (i) beer; and (ii) if people ask questions. For some reason, beer gives me strong nerves. I probably shouldn’t disclose this, but after a beer or two, I will pretty much do anything, with no fear.
Since beer is not an option for next week (or at least not one that I want to pursue), I am hopeful that my audience will be interactive. For some reason, that works to calm me.
Maybe it is because it distracts me.
Although, of course, that assumes that I know the answer to the question posed. (Maybe I should request that you ask me an easy question.)
I used to think with practice and/or age, this would get easier.
Here’s hoping that it finally will.