Speaking challenges

by | Aug 4, 2017 | Shahnaz Blog (Previously They Throw Rocks)

I’m in Chicago right now, doing a success speaker seminar.  I always thought I was a decent speaker.  Maybe even really good.  Then we had our exercises.  I realize that I use up a lot of nervous energy with “uhm” and “ok” and “so” and “well” that the talk uhmm sounds uhm like I’m uhm pausing so much uhm because uhm I have to think about what I say next.  Yes, that’s me.  It’s easier on the written page.  You can edit and you can edit and you can edit.  Speech is a little different.  For someone with as much energy as I have, it’s very difficult to edit the uhms while I’m talking at 200 miles per minute.  In our exercise, I had great feedback.  People loved my energy.  Yay!  That’s great.  Now, it’s time to delete the “uhm” and add pauses instead.  ARRRRGGGHHHHH.  Do you guys have any idea on how difficult it is for me?
We tried our exercises again and the second time around I was a mess.  It was horrible.  It was a “tell her to sit down and quit while she’s ahead” mess.  I tried and I was failing miserably.  Pause.  Come on, you can do this.  Pause.  I kept trying to tell myself.  Well, the funny thing with that is it takes you away from the talk when you are focused on the word pause or focused on pausing and focused on when to pause and how long to pause.  Well, I thought I was pausing until the facilitator came up to a stumbling me and said, “Pause!”  What the hell have I been trying to do so long?  Haven’t I been pausing enough already?  No, I didn’t say it.  I was thinking it, but I followed direction.  I paused.  Then I froze.  Yes, I froze.  Completely blanked out.  And then I broke down into laughter.  “OK.  I can do this,” I said, took a deep breath and continued.
I was far worse than the first go around.  Uhm I was uhm better than uhm falling flat on my face uhm in front of uhm everyone!  I came back to my hotel room and I think about it.  One of my colleagues said to me, “But you are fine.  You are an actress!” and I explain to her how acting works.  I explain to her how every word and intonation is memorized and practiced over and over and over again until it is internalized and you become the character.  I asked her, “Do I want to write every one of these lectures and memorize them with intonation?”  I forgot to mention movement to her.  Yes, as an actress you have to memorize that too.  If that was the case, I can do it.  If I’m doing a lecture on improv then it’s a whole new ballgame for me.  Then it’s a challenge and I don’t know how I feel about challenges being 45 years old.  I think about practice and persistence.  That’s the only way.  The people who make it in life, are those who get up consistently, over and over and over, until they make it.  They don’t quit.  We all experience challenges.  How are we going to deal with them?
For me, for now, I’m not sure.  I feel overwhelmed by this new challenge.  Time to face the mirror and decide on the “uhm elimination”.  It’s really frustrating.  It’s testing and pushing me to my limits.  I have to change and it’s not easy.  Good luck to me, right!  I’ll need all the luck in the world and more if I have to get past these gates.
That’s all I have for now.  Hope you are all well,
Talk later,


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