Fear of Public Speaking
This dazzling light is smothering me –
Feels far brighter than it can actually be;
Polite applause as I walk onto stage,
Pull out my notes and consult the first page.
Or I may use no notes at all,
And hold myself upright, proud and tall,
Relax as I break into a smile;
After all, I’m only up here for a short while.
More likely, I will stammer and stutter,
Rush through my words as the onlookers mutter,
Stare up at the ceiling, or maybe the floor,
Never the audience, but always the door.
My mind will wander to somewhere I’d rather be:
At home unwinding with a peppermint tea,
Away from the judging and whispering throng;
When I stand before them, I feel I’ve done something wrong.
I’ll shift all my weight from my left to my right,
Umming and ahhing all through the night;
I’ll shuffle and fidget and tremble and shake,
And wonder how much longer this could possibly take.
My voice will drone on in an onerous monotone,
As a bloke in the crowd talks loud on his iPhone;
My palms and my forehead now swimming with sweat,
I plead with the compere: “Is my time up yet?”
By Matt Drake, Member of Norwich Speakers Club, 6th November 2014