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Want to Get Better at Public Speaking? Flail Around Like a New Drummer!


At the age of 48 years and 11 months, I decided to take up the drums.  Yes, under this nerdy exterior lurks the heart of a wannabe, uber-cool, rock-n-roll chick.


My son-in-law Eric is an amazing drummer who played professionally in a number of local Atlanta bands.  He offered to give me lessons.


He originally had me pick out a few songs and we decided to start with Eric Clapton’s song Cocaine.


During the first lesson, Eric (the son-in-law, not Mr. Clapton) showed me some basic drum rhythms to use in playing Cocaine.  The next week, he showed me a few more flourishes that the drummer in the song uses which I was to then add to what I learned the previous week.  When we rehearsed the third week, I uttered words I never thought I’d say to my son-in-law, “Let’s do Cocaine again.”


Well, as it turned out, Cocaine was a little harder than what I should try as a beginner, so we decided to move to Lithium.  The song by Nirvana, not the actual drug Lithium.


But it is odd, don’t you think?  I couldn’t handle Cocaine so I had to switch to Lithium.  Hmmmm….


It’s been a while since I tried something so totally new and for me, it’s been a lesson in extreme vulnerability.


During our sessions, I futz around, arms and legs flailing as I try to grab the beat here and a rhythm there.  It ain’t pretty and I feel wholly inadequate.


Lucky for me, Eric has been an extremely patient and encouraging teacher.  He’s shared his early experiences when he was learning to drum.  He’s shared his feelings of vulnerability in playing now that he’s not as practiced as he was when playing professionally.  And he even claims that he can’t be perfect when he hasn’t played a song in years – though to me, he still sounds amazing.


That’s what it can be like with presentations too, especially when you’re first starting out or when you’re trying to add new techniques that you haven’t tried before.  But like drumming, there’s no way to get better without the painful, vulnerable part of actually doing the speaking.


This blog is packed with new and different ways to enhance your skills as a presenter.


As you read the posts, as you feel vulnerable in applying the lessons, be patient with yourself.  Give yourself permission to futz around and be awkward.  Take lessons from someone who’s more advanced in applying the skills.  Practice in safe places like your home, at a Toastmasters meeting or with trusted colleagues.  But take the step to put yourself out there and do it!


Some time in 2013, in honor of my 50th birthday, I plan to hold a short concert to show off my drum skills.  I’ll be sure to post some video so you can see what an uber-cool, rock-n-roll chick that I have become!


So if I can be vulnerable in this area, you can be vulnerable too.  And when you’re done, post a link to your videos in the comments section!  I’d love to see how your hard work and application of your new skills has paid off for you!



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