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My really strange public speaking fear

Last updated on January 30, 2023

This week, I’ll be delivering two presentations at the American Medical Writers’ Association (AMWA) conference in Sacramento. A good friend looked stricken when I told her. “I couldn’t do that!” she said. “Aren’t you terrified?”

No. Should I be?

Over the years, I’ve learned that as long as I’m comfortable with the material that I present, there’s nothing to fear.

Well… maybe one thing.

I have a deep paranoia about a technical failure. You’ve seen it happen: you walk into the conference room and there’s a presenter, completely at the mercy of the IT specialist, as the two of them troubleshoot a projector or computer issue in front of 200 people. Or maybe the microphone doesn’t work and has gone either dead silent or screams with feedback. Whatever the root cause of the technical issue, it leaves a stressed, flustered speaker and a restless crowd.

That’s my fear.

Oh, I know it’s absurd. I mean, I should be more concerned with completely forgetting what I was talking about, or stammering through my slides, or being unable to answer questions on the fly, or otherwise making an ass of myself on stage. And yet, those things don’t worry me in the slightest.

My friend assures me (in a way that only good friends can) that “normal people” have a different set of fears. I know for a fact that she’d rather be eaten alive by a grizzly bear than stand in front of people and speak, which I think is a learned response rooted in high school, but that’s another topic for another time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go backup my presentations to a flash drive and pack my spare VGA adapter. Just in case.

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