I’ve been volunteered for a new! and exciting! effective leadership! training class at my company. (There are always a lot of exclamation points when you get volunteered for something.) It’s a seminar designed to brush up on presentation skills.

I am on board if only because A. It means time away from my desk and incessant emails, and B. My current role doesn’t require me to give many presentations. I like it that way. We’ve covered the Myers-Briggs scale in a previous post (Any fellow INFJs in da house?) Things began to go terribly wrong when I received a reminder about the class, and in the small print, it said each student will need to prepare a 15-minute presentation which will be videotaped and critiqued. If we have visual aids to accompany our presentation, there will be projectors and screens available. *

public speaking

I’ll speak in front of small groups when necessary without going comatose. For example, when I was teaching, I didn’t mind standing in front of the classroom. And when The Subway Chronicles was published, I did several book readings and didn’t need to imagine the audience naked. Then I was asked to be interviewed on a local television station about the book. The glare of the lights. My reflection in the camera’s giant lens. The microphone pinned to my shirt. I broke out in an anticipatory sweat. I still can’t bring myself to watch the clip.

I think I can trace my public speaking problem to high school, which seems to be the genesis of most of my problems. Our class hosted a fashion show for a local charitable organization. Somehow I ended up as the emcee of the event. I can’t even remember to agreeing to that. I must have been absent from class that day. The auditorium was full. I held a Bob Barker microphone in one hand and my notecards in another. The little red light flashed on the camera and I froze. My notes got out of order and I was announcing the wrong people in the wrong outfits. I knew my future career would not involve news anchor or game show host.

The worst part about my upcoming presentation is that we were told to pick “any professional topic that interests you.” Now I have to write a 15-minute presentation and then stand in front of a video camera while I melt into the ground like the Wicked Witch of the West? I’m down to the wire and I’m still brainstorming ideas. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. Tips on surviving the zombie apocalypse (kindly suggested by a co-worker)

    I promise I won't include any gratuitous personal hygiene shots.

    I promise I won’t include any gratuitous personal hygiene shots.

  2. Video montage of Reggie
  3. Top 10 reasons I love John Hamm
  4. One word: Zumba
  5. How I Met Your Mother series finale—yay or nay?
  6. Puzzles: fun hobby or torture device?
  7. 101 uses for paper clips
  8. Tennis balls: how do they make the yellow fuzz?
  9.  Slideshow of my trip to Martha’s Vineyard
  10. An exploration of my feelings for grilled cheese
  11. A 15-minute silent meditation




* In corporate-speak, “if” equals mandatory. If you are available for this meeting… If you have the numbers ready for the report… If you finish the report by the end of the day… If you want to keep your job…


Do you have any suggestions for topics? I’m open to ideas! How do you feel about public speaking? 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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