Facing My Fear of Public Speaking
First I must mention that I have a fear of public speaking and being the center of attention. That being said, while other authors may have jumped for joy at the thought of speaking into TV cameras, for me it was about as much fun as root canal without novacain. Luckily--or not--depending upon one's point of view, I had been cajoled(forcefully pushed lol) by my local MADD organization to speak to one of the school PTAs, as a victim of a DWI related death. I survived that and thought that I was now finished with all this public notice. I did sell books at the PTA to interested parents--a just reward for my terror in speaking before them. Just about the time I was relaxing from my ordeal and my heart had gone back to its normal rate, Carmen Rivera, president of the Red Hat Ladies Society, called to tell me we were going to do a cable TV spot in a few days. I considered packing fast and heading out of town. But there was no way I could avoid it as people were trying to help promote my book, which was a generous thing that deserved my thanks, rather than my cowardice. The morning of the live interview, I awoke to an attack of allergies in my eyes, general body aches, a sick stomach and every other ailment my subconscious mind could conjure up to make me call in sick. I pretended a false bravado and drove off into my worst nightmare . We got lost finding the place, in spite of Mandy, our sarcastic GPS system and I was sure I would get a reprieve at that point. But no--a kind man gave us directions and I soon walked up the steps into my personal ring of fire. I would not be alone in this interview. The host, Grace Feranti, had invited Carmen and three other women to sit at a table much like the television show, "The View." All had suffered a loss of some kind, but the show focused mostly on my book and my story. As the camera man called out, "Three, two, one," I felt like I was standing before a firing squad. I could see my husband and daughter in the small audience reserved for friends and family who had come with us. That did not calm me as both can be my harshest critics at times. The one thing that saved me from totally collapsing was not daring to look at the TV set showing us Iive. God must have heard my morning prayers because I became completely detached from myself throughout the half hour program. My heart raced and jumped a bit at first, then settled down, thanks to my trusty new pacemaker. My family assured me that I gave a calm, cool and wonderful performance. I would not know as I remember nothing, except for the blessed words, "Cut, we're off the air." Whew! I did it and my book was displayed on the screen, along with whatever I said,. I had help fulfill my death bed promise to my dying daughter, Noelle, 26 years ago. I breathed a sigh of relief and was quite proud that I'd faced my fears, thinking I'd never have to do this again. But no . . .Three more appearances were quickly scheduled at various places by Carmen in the upcoming months. Will I ever get used to this? I don't think so--I never did get used to root canal.
Micki Peluso, author of . . .AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG