Grasping for opportunities
My junior year of college was a tough one. I was almost a senior yet I still did not know what I was doing with my degree or better yet my life. Class after class I was being nagged into finding an internship over the summer or else I would struggle come graduation. This was my first time actually exploring the opportunities that came with my finance degree. Needless to say, I was terrified. I hated the idea of working full time at a job that actually required a degree. I did my fair share of working in retail and the food industry, but now things were about to get real. Suffering from severe anxiety my whole life, this process was anything but easy. There were many internships offered to CU Leeds students. After I sent my resume out to a couple of different employers, I got a call back for an interview. I would be interviewing for a position in the Corporate Risk department at Elevations Credit Union. Despite how nervous I was the entire time, I made it through the interview, and then later got the job. However, part of this internship required I did something I have always been terrified of: public speaking.
Public Speaking Anxiety
I knew that the best thing for me was to accept the position, and the inevitable presentation I was required to perform. Like most people with anxiety and as Gary Genard expresses in his article “Speak for Success” I was concerned with feeling like other people were judging me, I would look obviously nervous, and I would come off as stupid or incompetent. I would not have to perform my presentation until the end of my internship but even so it loomed over me for the whole three months. While preparing for my speech I tried my absolute hardest to sound as smart as possible, however, I sounded nothing like myself. Instead I had a bland and boring presentation that when spoken, made me sound like a robot. It had taken me so long to come up with the details and sentences in my speech, but I wasn’t sure of how I would be coming off to other people. I knew that my hiring manager liked my personality, but what if the rest of the audience didn’t? I messed around with the points and sentences a bit until I felt like I was speaking in my own voice.
On the day that I was supposed to present, I was a nervous wreck. I had spent the entire morning preparing and getting ready, I probably practiced in front of the mirror a hundred times. My presentation was about the Millenial generation’s incoming wealth from trust funds, and how we can educate and approach them so that they use our bank for safe keeping their money. Many AVP’s and VP’s attended, as well as various other departments. When it was my time to speak, I did the best that I could. It was not a perfect speech. Not even close. But I did it. Afterwards, my boss approached me and told me I did a good job, except that I spoke too fast and it was clear that I was nervous. When the internship ended I felt many benefits from the experience. I realized that overcoming my vulnerability was the best thing I could have done for myself, even though it did not go perfect. In the online article “Communication Skills: 7 reasons inspiring public speaking is good for you” it mentions how vulnerability during public speaking is a good thing because it can help you connect with people better because they trust you more as they see you being empathetic. I don’t think I will ever completely get over my rationale fear of public speaking, but every time I present, I become more confident in who I am and what I have to offer.