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Strengths and weaknesses

April 18th, 2015 at 12:25 pm

At this point in my life, I have a pretty good handle on what my strengths and weaknesses are. One of my weaknesses has always been fear of public speaking. When I had to speak in front of the class in high school, my face would turn beet red. I'm sure you knew someone like that in your own classroom.

As a writer, I've avoided most public speaking during the course of my career and have no intentions to go to Toastmasters to overcome this particular shortcoming, just as I have no interest in jumping out of an airplane with a parachute or white water rafting down the Colorado River.

At my annual performance review, I was supposed to come up with several goals to enhance/build my skill set. My boss suggested, among other things, a course on public speaking, but I declined and she didn't push it, because she is not the confrontational type. I mean, I was hired as a writer and do a very good job of it; why must employers try to force you to do things you feel uncomfortable doing, especially if it's not a part of your job?

If, for instance, my boss's boss attempted to force me to present in front of our entire group, which numbers about 40, I would actually rather QUIT MY JOB than do that. I am being dead honest about that. And with just a few more years to go until I take an early retirement, I have no interest in advancing my career or getting a promotion. I'm in it purely for the money.

At work my more immediate "team" of about 10 people meets weekly to discuss what everyone's doing. Because we work out of two different locations, these meetings always take place as a conference call. My boss has a new boss, and the new boss naturally wants to do things differently so she can feel she's making a contribution. Each week she picks on someone different to make some sort of presentation for the following week to the rest of the group. This past week she mentioned she wanted me to go next.

I guess it's not really that big a deal because I will be speaking into the phone at my desk, not in front of a live group of people who will be watching how much I sweat. Still, I'm a tad nervous. Silly, I know.

The other difficulty is talking about anything that will be remotely relevant to this group of people. I'm the only writer out of the bunch; heck, I'm the only writer in my location with about 200 employees. I don't know why I was lumped in with this particular group of people, but they had to put me somewhere, I guess. But I have felt like a fish out of water for a long time; when they discuss their jobs, I have NO IDEA what they're talking about. They couldn't be more different than my job.

The rest of my team is in product marketing, yes, but they are more or less like project managers who are responsible for shepherding each communications project, be it a letter, a statement insert, an email or whatever we use to communicate with our customers, through the various rounds of approvals and then producing and mailing it, working with one of our vendor partners.

They know all about the logistics of mailing something to 1 million customers using various specialized/proprietary software to do it, but learning how to write a regulatory letter or apply our brand is not part of their realm of experience.

So I guess my boss is supposed to discuss the subject of my presentation with me in the near future. She was out for the latter half of last week. I already created a 20-slide PowerPoint but it seems a little lightweight to me although it may be somewhat entertaining because I inserted some quotes by Aristotle, Warren Buffet and former SEC Chair Arthur Leavitt about the importance of writing clearly, as well as a cute baby photo. Smile

My mother's new aide seems to be working out fine. From all accounts, she's doing a lot of housekeeping and going on lots of walks around the condo with my mom.

This is really just a stopgap measure but I do hope it will buy us some time before a bigger change...a required to keep my mother safe.

As it is, every SINGLE conversation with my mother shows noticeable forgetfulness and her ability to grasp things is really affected. I am sure that anyone who interacts with her will see it. Even with the aide, or increasing her days/hours, I'm not sure how well my mother can continue living alone.

I gave her a $50 Target gift card for Christmas and I kept asking if she'd used it. She hadn't, and it became more and more apparent that she was confused about how to use it so I've finally decided I will give her the money and take the card and use it myself, to keep things simple.

She wanted to exhibit her work in a spring show at a nearby art and frame shop/gallery. I decided to help her bring her art there today, since this is a very local shop and she has given up other shows further afield.

Tomorrow is my "me" day and I hope to be going for a 20-mile bike ride with a friend on a nice paved bike trail in New York state. It's 10 miles up to a cutesy little town, where we can do lunch, and then 10 miles back. I need to call him to confirm that though.

4 Responses to “Strengths and weaknesses”

  1. Amber Says:

    It sounds to me that your boss sees great potential in you and that was why the suggestion was made to do the public speaking. I know you have no desire; however, if I was in your shoes I would try it.

    Good luck on the presentation next week

  2. Looking Forward Says:

    Maybe the purpose of the presentation is to show what each person/department does. Maybe the others will find your presentation interesting. What have you thought of the other ones?
    Good luck!

  3. CB in the City Says:

    I have a similar disposition -- I enjoy writing, hate speaking. I think it's just something that's hard-wired into people like us. But I have had to do presentations in my career, and the surprising thing is that I've found I'm pretty good at them. Or fairly good, anyway. I think the trick is not to try to be anybody but yourself. People respond to sincerity.

    I remember my first "big" presentation -- I had to give a talk to a group of corporate fundraisers in the Big Ten -- in the big city of Chicago, where I never dreamed I would be living one day! The night before I stayed in a hotel and valiantly tried to "practice." The words wouldn't come, and I was in despair. I had nightmares all night and woke up feeling sick. Couldn't eat my fabulous free breakfast; couldn't concentrate on what anyone else said. I took my turn feeling like I was facing a firing squad. Guess what? It went great. I don't know why. People even came up to me afterward to tell me how much they enjoyed it. I think it was because my work was something they didn't know anything about, and they were genuinely interested.

    So my advice is, don't stress it. Just think about what you want to tell them; what your job is all about. The rest will come.

  4. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I hate public speaking too - unless it's in front of kids. In front of kids (younger than 14) I can do just fine. Put any adults in the group and I'm a royal mess. (Like when my class was doing a play for the whole school/invited parents ... I got so nervous that I forgot several of my students names ...)

    I have a tendency to way over think things and I think that sometimes makes me more nervous.

    Anyway ... like CB was saying, try not to over think it. They'll probably find it interesting to know what you do. Especially since it sounds like what they do is take the communications you created and send them out to the masses.

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