Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hello, I'm... Wait Let Me Check

If you've ever seen me speak in public, you probably saw a completely scripted well-rehearsed presentation, whether you knew it or not.

I rarely get up in front of a group to speak for any amount of time--60 second or 3 hours--without completely scripting my remarks. Right down to "Hello, I'm Bonnie..." It calms me down. It's how I cope with the jitters of public speaking. I try to not let my audience notice, but usually I'll have the script, in its entirely, very close at hand.

I discovered this trick in Toastmasters. Something about the safety net of the script relaxes me to the point that I don't need it. I seldom read from the script. If things are really rolling, I barely glance at it. But I like knowing I could if I have to.

I'm good at delivering scripts and I'm good at memorizing scripts. Part of it is practice, and part of it is just a knack for sounding natural while I'm actually reading something. So, having the script on hand takes the worst case scenario from "freezing, forgetting everything and having to just go sit down" to "freezing, forgetting everything and having to read it off the script."

This is on my mind today, because I just returned from speaking at the Oklahoma Libraries Association Annual Conference. I was on a panel and gave a short presentation on social media and libraries. Of course, my script sat right by the laptop as I talked. I gave it a quick scan once to make sure I'd hit all my points for a particular slide, and I used it when I was sharing a direct quote. For the rest of the time it just sat there as my little private lifeline.

The best part: at the end of the day, a participant told me, "I'd go to any training session you did. You were such a great presenter." Well, gosh. If that isn't a public speaking morale boost, I don't know what is.

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