Awaiting my impending call to the podium I attempt to focus on the words of the speaker, What was her name? What company is she with? Oh my gosh! what is she speaking about? My mind has cast its customary cloak of uncertainty around me leaving my palms clammy and armpits sweaty along with a sense of implausible angst! I take a deep breath and slowly count to ten. It will soon be my turn and as usual the 'jitters' have set in. Attempting to compose myself I glance down at the words of my carefully prepared speech wondering for the hundredth time or so it would appear, why I am so terrorized by these ‘civic community’ engagements… Reading the first few lines on the paper in front of me whilst chiding myself for my ‘madcap inanity,’ I subconsciously rehearse every word, sentence and paragraph but typically those prehensile parts of the upper limb begin to involuntarily shake and tremble forcing me to retract them from the table to the safety of my lap. Oh! how I hate when this happens and more to the point, why does it happen? Predictably, I have no rationale answer to either of these questions apparently having zero control over this shell of a body that insists on having a mentality all of its own. My throat is as dry as an ‘African summer’ and fearfully self-conscious but thirsty enough to decide that I'm desperate, I reach for the glass of iced water directly in front of me. The clear, cool transparent liquid seduces my lips and sooths the tightness in my throat while at the same time calming the fear that has threatened to swallow me up! My stomach slowly ceases to churn and I wonder if anyone has noticed my tremulous, quivering hands. Surely not! Oh for goodness sake (I scold myself) pull yourself together it's only a speech!
I hear my cue and gathering my papers I rise from my seat and walk nervously towards the front of the room and the foreboding lectern before me! Clearing my throat I smile and give a brief nod to my ‘host’ signaling that I am ready to begin my oration (or as ‘raring to go’ as I ever will be).
The announcer addresses the room, "Ladies and Gentlemen it gives me great pleasure to introduce Susan Smith from Speak Eazy Productions. Susan is here with us today to lecture on the fine art of ‘public speaking’…"