Thursday, February 1, 2007
I usually consider myself prepared for anything when it comes to getting up in front of a crowd.
I’ve been asked numerous times over the years, at the spur of the moment, to pray, both at church and various events.
My response, “I’m always prepared to pray.”
A big part of overcoming nervousness in front of an audience, at church or elsewhere, can be credited to my growing up days at the Barn Creek Church of Christ near Hamilton, Ala.
I was always helping serve the Lord’s Supper, reading Scriptures and even giving brief talks on Wednesday nights during my teenage years.
And, of course, high school was a learning ground, too. Particularly when running for the student council and having to give that “political” speech.
I had high school teachers, too, who made us get up often in front of the class. Like lots of things I was forced to do schoolwork-wise, I didn’t like it at the time, but I realize its importance now.
Then in college I took a speech class, and that was one of the most difficult courses I’ve ever taken.
The teacher was tough. But I survived and got a good grade, too, despite my nervousness.
Then since beginning my professional career about 23 years ago, the times I’ve been in front of folks have been often – from journalism classes to club meetings to workshops to leadership classes to big banquets.
I even got to introduce Gov. Haley Barbour once. That might have been the occasion where I was the most nervous.
Or maybe not. There was that time, when I was part of an effort to establish a county-wide economic development organization in Monroe County, that television crews asked for an interview.
I was used to being the one behind the camera (working for the newspaper).
Being on the other end was quite uncomfortable.
I watched the segment that evening and, thank goodness, I didn’t make a fool of myself.
Last weekend I took on a new speaking challenge.
Due to Lisa McNeece (of the Calhoun County Journal in Bruce) being out of commission due to knee surgery and Sid Salter’s sudden hospital stay, I was asked to be one of the moderators for the Better Newspaper Contest Advertising Awards during the Mississippi Press Association Mid-Winter Convention in Jackson.
Sid and Lisa have been the presenters for as long as I can remember. No one in our business can entertain a crowd better than Sid. And he doesn’t even need notes. He has a great sense of humor. And Lisa is wonderful as Sid’s sidekick for the awards show.
Their shoes were impossible to fill but Muffet McPhail, assistant publisher of The Daily Star in Grenada, and I said, “OK, we will give it a shot.” It was the “Barry and Muffet Show,” as I called it.
Thank goodness, I did have time to make some notes and read over all the names of the award winners. And thank goodness the crowd was filled with fellow newspaper folks who I’ve been hanging out with twice a year for 20 years at conventions.
Muffet and I only made a couple of blunders, I think.
One time I said The Daily Journal and should have said The Daily Star.
A couple of times I pronounced a name and heard people in the audience kindly offer me the correct pronunciation.
But anyone would likely have stumbled on last names like Badome, Muli and Shabazz.
I think we made it through in record time. And that’s the way the crowd likes it – the quicker the better. We actually had a blast.
And one thing’s certain – we got folks looking forward to the summer convention even more - and not just because it’s at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi.
They eagerly await the return of the “Sid and Lisa Show.”
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