November 09, 2007

Difference between fright and exhilaration

I have just this week managed to pin down the difference between fright and exhilaration. Let's say, by way of illustration (no, there really aren't any pictures here), that you have to give a talk, a set of remarks to about 250 people gathered to listen to you present an award to a distinguished American historian. The event is going pretty well and it is almost time for you to speak. You discreetly pull your notes from the podium to go over your remarks during dessert to make sure you are not going to screw up your delivery or the message you want to present. You read the notes and the prepared remarks. You decide that, despite all the time you spent writing them, they really don't come within 500 miles of hitting what you had hoped to convey. So, you sit there with the notes in hand, while your ice cream melts, and you decide that you cannot give these remarks.

That is pretty close to fright.

You get up to the podium and ask for the room to come to order so you can speak. You tell the audience: "I have some remarks that I prepared for the occasion and I am now going to throw them away. Let's wing it, shall we?"

That is liberating. One step on the way to exhilaration.

The room goes totally silent when you tell them you are chucking your speech. You begin to talk. You speak extemporaneously, from the heart, and with some passion. You are interrupted twice by spontaneous and sustained applause.

By the second interruption, you experience exhilaration.

That's the difference between fright and exhilaration. Stepping out on to the wire without a net and then getting to the other side.

I might not want to live every speaking engagement in that fashion, but I am happy to do so every so often.

Posted by Random Penseur at November 9, 2007 02:39 PM | TrackBack

I'm so very envious of this, RP. Good job.

Posted by: Jurate at November 9, 2007 03:59 PM

Way to go, RP! I have never, ever been good at prepared speeches. I tend to wander and then get lost trying to get back to my notes. I prefer to wing it.

I gotta ask, though. Who was the historian?

Posted by: Howard at November 9, 2007 04:40 PM

I hate, hate, HATE public speaking. I always have this surreal moment where I cannot seem to believe all those people are listening to me, whilst knowing at the same time I'm uttering complete bs. I always have the feeling I'm outside of my body and it creeps me out.

Way to go for winging it. God only knows I'd never be able to do it.

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