Facing up to the Fear of my MC Debut
I’m not one of those people who fear public speaking, which is probably due to the fact I was on stage from the youngest age playing music. With that said, neither am I a limelight seeker, often preferring to be in the background focusing on the experience being amazing for those in the audience – that’s my default setting.
So it was with trepidation that this past week I geared up for my MC debut and my word, my guts was roiling ALL day long. It was horrendous. I put the anxiety levels down to not having enough time to focus on it, and then when I did, I really started to appreciate that an MC gig is a whole new world of speaking I’ve never embraced - in a formal sense at least.
As I started putting together my script, I realized I hadn’t been a member of the Asia Professional Speakers Singapore (APSS) Association long enough to innately understand the flow, so those small important things that matter just weren’t clear in my mind – i.e. how do you do a good job of introducing those with serious credentials? I scrambled it together knowing all along it wasn’t quite right. But I’d be forgiven as an MC virgin right?
I arrived at the event – early of course – and this is when things went a little awry for me. My debut occurred the night two amazing speakers from the US were in town. Because they are so good and respected by the APSS members (locally and globally), many of the really REALLY experienced professional speakers based in Singapore turned up. We always have good attendance from this group, but this week, I felt like everyone was there. My word, DAUNTING.
However then I realized a bigger mistake. I didn’t ask the speakers how they wanted to be introduced in advance and came up with my own ideas on how to do it. They didn’t like my idea, doh! So they gave me a script they preferred – oh NO!
I don’t know about everyone else, but reading in public is not my thing. For example, if you ask me to read a prayer or a poem at your Wedding, expect me to say no, because I HATE reading from a script. The problem is my brain and mouth work so fast, that when required to read in front of an audience, I get all in a-jumble and my self-consciousness goes through the roof. This week I had to face up to that little fear.
My favourite reading-out-loud moment happened at University. I had to read a paper to my music class and in the middle I started giggling. The reason I was giggling was because I was looking at myself through the audiences’ eyes and thought the situation was ridiculous. Unfortunately, I giggled directly after saying the word “pianist” and naturally, everyone thought I was laughing because it sounded like.. .well you know.
So being asked to read something an hour before show time completely destabilized me, which was a rather interesting experience I must say. Professionally I’ve always been able to handle any situation I get myself into, and it’s rare for me to be stuck or side-blinded, and yet here I was, all in a tizz. But none of it mattered, because I had to get through it and no, I could not sit on the toilet any longer practising the script, because it was time.
I was very happy when it was over I must say. All up did I do a shocking job and make a complete arse of myself? No I don’t think it was that bad. Did I learn A LOT? Absolutely and if the chance comes up again, I’ll be so much better prepared. Is MC’ing my thing? I don’t know and will have to get back to you on that one, but with practise, I think I could do a good job MC’ing. I now definitely have much greater respect for the prep required to be a great MC that’s for sure – something I could never have known without doing it before.
And were the audience critical or kind? You know, the reason I joined APSS was to surround myself with incredible people doing incredible things, and when the student is ready the teacher comes right? I now have 50+ teachers – all of whom give me so much and are already helping me steer myself towards a new professional journey. Of course they were kind, because every single one of them has been in my shoes and all of the feedback was greatly appreciated – especially the observation that I didn’t smile enough. Wow, me not smiling, that’s new. I must have been quaking in my pants to forget to do that.
But it is done. I am grateful for the guts I somehow gained in how I approach my life. I am grateful for everyone who reaches out and helps me do and be better (hopefully returning the favour when I can). I am also supremely grateful to have found an association of very cool people who believe as I do - it’s not what you get, but what you give that matters. Can’t tell you how happy that has made me finding them.
Yours, without the bollocks