Everyone was relaxed and comfortable until those two dreaded words.Those two words, which when uttered separately, aren’t threatening at all, but when spoken together bring terror to normal men and women. You guessed it: “Public speaking.” There I was, at a management skills workshop. About 25 of us, all newspaper people from all over the West, met together for two days to learn how to better manage our respective newspaper worlds.We had a great group full of wildly diverse personalities. All of us seemed to have a good sense of ourselves as we joked around, discussed different issues we have, and learned about how to be better at what we do.That was, until we were told we would have to get up in front of one another and speak.Suddenly, the entire room collectively clammed up. You could feel the panic rising like water, filling the room, drowning away any and every bit of happiness that once existed.Our workshop leader, Debbie, said we’d need to get up and give a little speech to each other because it’d make us better communicators in the long run. Then she told us we wouldn’t have to give our little talks until the next day. That meant we had the whole rest of the day and night to brood. Debbie the workshop leader didn’t make things easier when she explained to us what people who took a survey fear the most in their lives. She even wrote it down for us to take home:”Things People Fear the Most (with most being No. 1): 10. Dogs; 9. Loneliness; 8. Flying; 7. Sickness; 6. Death; 5. Deep water; 4. Financial problems; 3. Insects; 2. Heights; and No. 1 – Public speaking.”Me? Well, I love dogs (except for the wildly rabid kind with gnashing teeth), though I’m not particularly hot on loneliness; I can endure flying as long as the plane isn’t jumping all over the place. I’m not thrilled with being sick, and death is pretty out there – a real head-scratcher. Deep water is fine as long as I’m not in shark-infested waters. Financial problems definitely suck, but I’m not particularly fearful of them. Insects? Yeah, ladybugs rock, but cockroaches are nasty, and I have no problems with heights. It occurred to me afterwards that Debbie’s fear list was missing some pretty big items. Where was the homicidal maniac with a knife? How about a nuclear explosion obliterating everything in sight? What about my husband sneaking up while I’m taking a shower and scaring the crap out of me (an almost daily occurrence)? I’d take giving a speech over any of those three any day. Carrie Click much prefers public writing over public speaking. Her column appears every Tuesday in the Post Independent. Carrie can be reached at 625-3245, ext. 101, email@example.com.
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