I was surprised a couple of weeks back, when good buddy Andy struck with an unexpected comment that nailed how I do this “MC” thing. Paraphrasing some (because I don’t remember exactly what he said):
“Dave, I know you get nervous before you get up there, but you’re great once you get in the moment, aren’t you?”
I remember it feeling like a weird segue at the time, but it hit home, and I agreed emphatically with him. That’s exactly how I feel about anytime I do any kind of public speaking.
Most of my life, I hated public speaking. I recall lying to get out of a presentation in elementary school (and me being a great student, they managed to miss my misdirection… or just didn’t tell me that they knew I’d lied), and always got really jittery before anything I had to say in front of people.
The funny part is that at some point, I got good at it, and now it’s not nearly as big a deal. I still get nervous on occasion, but there are times I just go and do it without thinking. I’ve MCed wedding receptions, host a podcast listened to by dozens (DOZENS) of people, and am game for pretty much anything they’ll ask me to do where I get a microphone and a free canvas to talk.
It’s not an exagerration to say it was something of a turning point in my life when Mike and Leah asked me to MC their wedding reception- with none of us really sure what it would mean. As much as fear consumed me at points, I discovered that I relished the challenge of preparing to be in front of people. And let’s face it, I’m a bit of a ham in a crowd.
The presentation skills I learned from that- not to mention the idea of being confident in my own skin- are things that really help me where I am now. Being a so-called “relationship officer”, meeting new people nearly every day, you’d better be good on your feet. And I am, for the most part.
It’s strange, though: If you asked me to remember a specific portion of any event I’ve MCed, or anytime I’ve done public speaking, I probably wouldn’t remember. Once I get into it, I almost lose myself ‘in the moment’, as Andy described it. The instincts take over.
Which might explain why I’m overthinking all the time, if I’m going on instinct so often.