Feel the fear and go ahead!


I was at the Hilton for an important work event; our MD and
Board members were present as well as top management staff. Employees of
different levels were also asked to be present as the organisation’s new
corporate identity was being unveiled. I felt privileged to be in the midst of
my organisation’s top brass and was looking forward to the event.

As the event commenced, a top member of the management team
went to the podium to address the audience on the brand and why we all needed
to embrace it. As the second speaker addressed us, the MC moderating the event approached
“What department are you in?” he asked.
I was puzzled, and seeing the look on my face he spoke again.
“Aren’t you Chioma? You’re speaking next, right?”
Hian!! Speaking, are you sure? 
Surely there was a mix-up, I thought, but after he showed me
my name and last name on his schedule, I knew that the people in the
Communications Unit had given him my name without informing me. He saw that I
was totally unprepared and told me he could shuffle the order and call someone
else before me, but I told him it was OK and I went ahead.  
I am sure at this point you’re thinking that I’m a confident
speaker who was used to speaking before crowds, right? Well, you couldn’t be
more wrong. I was scared stiff….
First of all, I had never spoken to people in such a setting.
Apart from sharing a testimony in church years ago, this was a first. Secondly,
I stammer. I have stammered all my life, and anyone familiar with stammering
will know that it gets worse under pressure or anxiety.  Finally, the
people in the room were big ogas…not
just from my office but from other places as well. 
So I was scared of messing up, but at the same time I knew it
as an opportunity to test and practise my public speaking skills.  In the
few seconds before being called up to the podium, I told myself I should feel
privileged to be chosen to address such a distinguished gathering. I also told
myself that if they had put my name on that list with such accomplished people,
then I would make the best of it.
Then my name was called. Thankfully, I was dressed in a
killer suit that day (one reason you should always make sure you look “on
point”), and I “girded my loins” and mounted the podium with my head raised
I tried to remember how the lady who spoke before me had
addressed the dignitaries. “Our MD, distinguished Board, and all protocols
observed (magic phrase when you don’t want to leave anyone out), my honourable colleagues,
I am here to speak once again on the brand…”
Thankfully, the fear vanished as I spoke. I tried to focus on
the crowd and kept it short and sweet.
When I left the podium, sank into my seat and gulped down a
glass of water, a colleague patted me on the back and said, “Nne ñuo mmili, i gbaliana!”
(“Drink water, you have tried!”)
Another of my colleagues said, “Chiomah, kai, you are bold! If
na me I for run!” 
If only she knew….

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