Beer Assisted Speech

When I was in college I had a huge fear of public speaking. Every time I signed up for a new class if I saw there was a speech requirement I’d immediately drop the class. No way was I going to stand up there an stumble through it. I had a mental block, even more than my peers.

Shortly before I was to graduate I needed one more English class to qualify. There was only one left available to me at the time. Yep, you guessed it, a speech requirement. What was I going to do?

Thankfully my roommate, who was highly qualified in the art of “Beer Drinking for College Students”, brought it to my attention that perhaps a beer or two before the fateful speech would calm me down.

With nothing to lose I took his advice, and if two was good, probably four was better (I always tend to overdo things…)

Needless to say I didn’t have any fear. Right up there I went. In fact, I didn’t want to quit. The teacher graciously escorted me back to my seat, probably thinking “what a loser!” That should qualify for one of the dumber things I’ve done.

A couple of years after I graduated I still had the fear. My father had an idea though, and unlike my well-meaning college roommate, this one would have lasting impact.

He sent me to a Dale Carnegie class on giving talks.

Showing Up was taking a big step for me but as it turned out everyone there was as scared as me.

Everyone was nervous just introducing themselves. The instructor was great though and put us through a whole bunch of exercises to “loosen us up”, none of which required a beer!

By the end of the few week class we could all get up and give a talk. Incredible.

There are often multiple solutions to problems, some better than others. Getting rid of the crutch and learning to confront and conquer a fear of public speaking was huge in my career.

When I went on to the large public accounting firm I was expected to and did give many talks in my time there. At a part-time job at one point I was teaching accounting classes at a college for 4 years. And now teaching, putting on workshops and helping others is the very best part of what I do. Good thing I didn’t hang on to the crutch.


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