Oh, if only I weren’t so smart looking!

So, over the past week, I worked really hard on a PowerPoint presentation for a conference call that the big wigs were to have with a prospective client today. (And when I say “I worked hard”, I mean that I had plenty of help from the resident PowerPoint-web-designer-geeky expert type person whom I admire tremendously for her PowerPoint skills.) The conference call was scheduled for this afternoon, and while I was not involved as an active participant, I was looking forward to hearing afterwards how things went.

Just before 2:00, my boss came by to talk to me and said, “Hey, why don’t you come join us during the call. You worked hard on this. You should come listen in.”

I was happy to have been invited and readily agreed to be a fly on the wall at 3:00.

About fifteen minutes after that conversation with my boss, she stopped by again, saying, “I just talked with Big Wig #2 and he shared some interesting information with me. I thought it was important to share it with you.”

“What is it?” I asked with curiosity, expecting maybe some good gossip.

“Well, I just thought I would confirm with Big Wig #2 that he was leading the conference call, since Big Wig #1 will be calling in from out-of-town and not in the best position to run things. So I asked him if that was the plan.”

“Yes?” I said, encouraging her to continue.

“Well,” she said. “Big Wig #2 said he would be introducing the call, but that you would be doing the presentation.”

I believe my reaction was something like this.

I believe my response was also something like this: “Ha ha! Ha ha! You’re kidding me, right? Wait. You are kidding me, right? No? Oh crap.”

Quick recap: I wasn’t even invited to the meeting until one hour and fifteen minutes before it was to happen. I had been operating on the assumption that I was preparing materials for people who were skilled in presenting materials. Now, one hour before the meeting, I was informed that I would not just be listening in. I would be presenting.

Yes, I’d say it was pretty important to share that information with me, thankyouverymuch.

See what happens when they let men be in charge? Of course, no, I don’t mean you men who might be reading here. YOU would never forget to invite to your meeting the person who is supposed to speak at your meeting. Not you guys. Just some men.

Have I mentioned before that I don’t speak in front of people? Well. I mean, it’s not that I don’t speak in front of people. It’s just that it’s not one of my favorite things. If it’s a casual setting and I can joke around, I’m quite comfortable with speaking in front of people. I’ve even been known to make people laugh here and there. It’s only when I’m expected to speak intelligently, while being observed by others, that I have a problem. I’m really just not good at putting myself on display in front of others. (Well… except for some odd reason, on this blog.)

I really need to work on my self-confidence, don’t I? After all, Big Wig #2 never would have expected me to do this if he didn’t think I was capable, right? I’m just afraid … that my six years of experience in this industry isn’t enough to allow me to compete with those that have a lifetime of experience… that I’ll say something completely idiotic in situations like this and then all the important people will realize I’m really not as smart as they think I am.

People do tend to think I possess a degree of intelligence. I guess I pull off the intelligent look fairly well. If they only knew.

I’m kidding! Sort of.

I know I have the ability to do this stuff. Why can’t I just believe in myself a little bit?

Well, anyway, I quickly drew up an outline for myself so that I wouldn’t sound either like I was fumbling for words, or like I was reading straight from the presentation. I finished my notes just in time for the meeting.

I ran through the presentation. I didn’t say anything incredibly hideous and I believe I sounded like I knew what I was talking about. In fact, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t know I would have to do this before today. I would have lost sleep. Seriously. I would have. As it stands, I survived and the prospective client expressed interest in learning more and soon. So I guess I didn’t blow up the company or anything.

I’m tempted to say that I don’t want to have to do that again anytime soon, but if I don’t want to, then I’ll have to stop looking so damn intelligent all the time. And let’s face it. That’s just not going to happen. Guess I have a new skill to work on!

26 thoughts on “Oh, if only I weren’t so smart looking!

  1. There is little difference in saying words and writing words. Writing words is the harder of the two because it takes more talent to get people to listen to written words so you are ahead of the game. A good way to present yourself to an audience is to pretend your are speaking with your neighbor by the back yard fence or in a chat at the coffee shop. Remember since your are the one presenting you have the info they do not. Gives you upper hand so have more confidence. Look how many people listen to your blog.

  2. Young lady, I think you are on a path of self-growth and improvement that’s going to lead you far beyond anywhere you can see yourself now. Mark my words.

  3. I’m sure you did great, Terri. Ugh, men! You’re absolutely right about being better off for having found out two minutes before the presentation started – good attitude! Don’t you feel a confidence boost now that it’s over AND you did well?

  4. Or, when speaking before a group, pretend they are all sitting (or standing) there and all of your audience is naked -well, that’s what I heard a long, long time ago anyway. Don’t ask me if it is a tried and true theory that really works as I’ve never employed that strategy. But then too, the only time I ever speak before a group of people is at the reunions for my high school class and for some reason or other, my good friend and neighbor down the street from me, who was our class president and is usually in charge of our reunions, has this weird notion that I do well as an emcee/host, whatever you wanna call it, for our reunions! But that’s a fun thing and not business, not work related! In college, it took me a long time to get comfortable enough to just raise my hand and ask a question and in work conference type situations, those who know me really well kind of get a bit of a shock as I tend to sit there quiet as a little church mouse, in absolute fear that someone would, heaven forbid, ask me a question! Something I guess we both need to practice a bit gaining more self-confidence, isn’t it? That’s all you need to do, Kiddo -learn to speak up, speak out a bit more and before you know it, you’ll be very much at ease speaking on important topics that are work related and not even bat an eye much less get really nervous over doing that! I have utmost faith in your ability there. After all, you wouldn’t be able to relate the things you can and do in your blog if you weren’t very capable of presenting information in person, vocally! And while I’m here -congrats on pulling that off so now, you can add doing presentations to your resume too!

  5. I’m known as someone who can get up in front of an audience and speak with little preparation, except it’s not true. My business partner taught me to anticipate all of the questions you might be asked as you prepare your presentation and determine how you’ll answer them. If there are people who don’t have as much info or knowledge at you, it’s crucial to tailor your answers to their level of knowledge. That means knowing your audience, which you certainly can’t do with the short notice you had. That was unfair but you were as prepared as you could be. Also … never be afraid to say “I don’t know … I’ll get you that answer,” or defer to someone else.

    Sorry to go on … presentations were one of my strengths when business was good. It gets easier with practice, just like writing. Congrats on your success.

    Bud

  6. First off, I love the title of the post. Second, I’ll bet you were great. I always hear that people fear public speaking more than death. I don’t, although getting murdered because of your poor public speaking would be a bummer. I’m all over the map on this one. If I’m in charge, I’m fine. If not, I am a complete basket case. Go figure.

  7. I bet you were great!

    I also suspect that the late invitation was deliberate so you wouldn’t have enough time to really work yourself up about it. I mean, with the amount of work you have put into this project, why on earth would anyone else want to step up and give the presentation? Your boss knew EXACTLY what she was doing…

    Good for her too!

    And good for you for pulling it off! I knew you could do it! We all did! I guess you were the only one who wasn’t sure about it.

    Hi-fives all round!

  8. Your paragraph about speaking in front of others sounded very familiar. Some time ago I expressed very similar observations about myself and was told “writers write” that is what you do. It kind of goes with the way we share ourselves with the world. I’m sure you did wonderously well in spite of not having a keypad in front of you.

  9. Okay, Terri! I agree with Renee that the title here is GREAT and with Carl that writing is the harder of the two tasks–way harder. If you can write and present, then you have it made, woman! You are the whole package! The BIG ENCHILADA!

    And about men–they are so often dumb, it must be embarrassing for them as a gender, so I’ll say no more!

    Kathy

  10. Hey Teri
    The key is to join Toastmasters in your community. There you can learn public speaking skills. The way that I get motivated to speak in public is to think that what I am going to say to the audience will improve their lives and that if I did not do the presentation that they would be deprived. In that way, I can’t wait to give my presentation and actually thrive on it.

    With a little practice it will be as much fun as bowling is to you. Trust me on this.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

  11. Good for you! Even just inviting you at the last minute is unacceptable as a manager. They should expect that you have other work to do, just as they do, and that you need time to schedule in something like that. Then to just spring a presentation on you like that….very disorganized and unprofessional. Makes me wonder a little less why the company is struggling with management like that.

  12. Well, GOOD FOR YOU! And, you’re right. It was probably BETTER that you did NOT know you would be presenting the meeting, otherwise you definitely would have obsessed over it way too much, and lost sleep over it!

  13. First of the all, the title completely rocked my afternoon – laughed out loud, big bright smile and I literally LEANED in to read more … Secondly … all things considered, I have to imagine that you did FAR better than you thought you did (( um you prepared the materials, right?? )) and LASTLY … bravo for getting in, getting through it, and getting on with it. My hunch? You’ll be asked to do so again … and now you have your own lil Badge of Courage to show you’ve been there.. done that and lived to tell the tale. :) Cheers! MJ

  14. You need to give yourself more credit. Preparing the presentation was the hard part. This was a good thing for you, it means your big wigs have a lot of confidence in you.

  15. Terri —

    Do you remember when we first “met”?? It was when we both blogged our feelings about public speaking classes and how hard they were. I think we agreed that we don’t learn to speak in public from the class, we just get up-to-speed on what we ought to be doing, then it is occaisions like the one you went through here that force us to refine our skills and put what we learned into practice. I feel for you!

    — Judson

  16. Pingback: I don’t need help getting embarrassed. I can do it all by myself. | Into The Mystic

  17. Bravo! Takes guts to do what you did. Especially with little to no notice. I think you did great. Now you just need more practice to get confidence (Toastmasters is a good place to start). I might add, they wouldn’t have picked you if they didn’t think you could handle it.

  18. I think they knew exactly what they were doing when they put you up there in front of everyone. I don’t think they could’ve picked a better person to do it either. I don’t think your intelligence is only in your looks. :) I’m sure you did a fantastic job. And congratulations on being picked by your execs to do it. They obviously have a great deal of confidence in you. I’d say it’s well-placed.

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