Public Speaking Trick #73
This weekend I did the scariest, most nerve racking public speaking I’ve ever done. It wasn’t because the topic was difficult, or the crowd large. It wasn’t because I didn’t know my material, or that I hadn’t rehearsed. I was the officiant in my friend’s wedding. Minister’s everywhere can attest: John Vechey is no minister, but they asked me to marry them, and with great honor I said yes. Some quick Internet forms later, and I was an ordained priest in the church of the Dude. Or Dudeism. Which is, obviously, the religion formed by mating The Big Lebowski and the Internet.
I’ve had the honor of some pretty large public speaking and while sometimes I’ve done a good job (Inc 500 conference) others somewhat mediocre (GDC Online 2011), and rarely horrible (not going to talk about it), the stakes had never been higher. My role was to convey a message, tell a story, capture a sense of the moment, and, well, make their new life together official. I didn’t realize how scary and daunting that was going to be until I walked down the isle and stood in front of their friends and family. Then. One key thought hit me: “Holy shit, I’m marrying two of my closest friends.”
That’s when my knees starting emulating the great quake. My butt spewed salt water as my eye’s evaporated. My toes cramped and my palms went frigid. My knees felt like humming birds twittering over a succulent flower. My mouth transformed into the Sahara while my throat became a grip vice. And my knees. Did I mention my knees were rocking back and forth? I dared not look down for fear of vertigo or motion sickness and my knees would not stop shaking.
So I took a breath. I watched Meg, gorgeous, walk down the aisle. Breathed again.Realized my front row seat afforded me a view of the love in CJ’s eyes. I took a breath. Felt my nervousness. It was there, but I wasn’t going to hide from it. It wasn’t going away but neither were Meg, CJ, the wedding party, or the guests.
My knees never once stopped shaking while I married them.
So here’s Trick #73: Sometimes you get nervous. Doesn’t matter to the audience. Feel it. Move on. If you do that, no one is going to notice.
Congratulations to Meg and CJ. Thank you for having me play such an important role in your wedding, and even more importantly, in your lives!