November 13, 2006
A View from the Stacks: I go to a chapter meeting smiling and leave concerned for my professional future
You know those people who go to meetings and make everyone look bad by speaking about a certain topic with great umbrage and eloquence? I am not one of those people. I would not go so far as to say I despise those people, but after attending (and speaking) at a meeting for the local chapter of law librarians this last week, I am very jealous of those who can walk into a room and leave without being concerned that they have made an utter fool of themselves.
Last week, I took part in a panel discussion on the topic of generational differences in librarianship. My friend Robyn, who was organizing the panel, and who I have more respect and adoration for than she will ever know, asked me if I would be interested in speaking on behalf of the technician portion of the librarian profession. I was both there as a non-librarian, as well as a person from the “Generation Y” age group. I was also in the company of a panel of speakers who were highly esteemed and who could string together words in a much more coherent manner than me. Oh, and they were also not shaking like I was out of nervousness. Tip for those who get nervous speaking in front of people: Never, ever, pick up a can of Diet Coke and try and drink from it if your hands are shaking.
In all honesty, I have blown the whole thing out of proportion in my head. But, after telling the audience that I don’t like job feedback (full disclosure: I really do like to know what people think of me personally. I just don’t like having to talk about projects ad nauseum) and that South Park is the one movie that I believe defines my generation, I began to wonder if I had gone about this meeting all wrong. This was my “debut” into the world of panel discussions and I had, in my opinion, blown everything by being a little too, um…blunt?
Or perhaps I should say that I was not polished. There was a time in my life where I was quite comfortable talking in front of groups. Of course, this was when I was in Mr. Harrison’s fourth grade classroom and I got to present on my findings of paper mache volcanoes. With delight and a knowing smirk, I wowed my fourth grade peers by showing them the amazing combination of baking soda and vinegar at work. Looking back, this may have been the peak of my public speaking career.
Strangely, even after the feeling of dread I had that day leaving the conference room, I would gladly agree to speak again. I think that may be the one way to get over both the stage fright, as well as learn how to be one of those eloquent folks who are so articulate in their statements. However, the next time (if there is a next time) I am going to request a straw for my Diet Coke. It will be just one less thing to worry about.
Stina McClintock, Library Technician, King County Law Library (Seattle) and Beer Judge (BJCP)
Editor's Note: ... the joys of being perceived as being blunt. Been there, still there. [JH]
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