I was one-fourth of a panel on Latin America tonight, and boy is my ego tired. In the days before the panel I tried to bone up on a subject I was already pretty much obsessed with, drafting a 1800-word “speech” that I didn’t actually planned to give – I reckoned if I put together a speech like that in advance, I could roll from memory. And that’s what I attempted. Speaking third in the lineup, I tried to riff off the intense, learned, heavily-accented presentation a Brazilian journalist gave – “I have less expertise than the rest of this panel, and I am going to be in the position later of disagreeing about Brazil with you.”
My timing was off, I was laughing, and it wasn’t funny in the first place. But when no one got that I was trying to break the ice, I started to sweat and ran through my main points faster than I wanted to. The two minute warning came sooner than I expected, and stupidly I tried to joke about it, then joked again when I wanted to make a long point in 60 seconds. Eventually, I blew past my time limit and hung my head a little for the rest of the panel.
I think I made a comeback during the Q&A, though. Honest friends said as much. When an actual question was posed, and I had an opportunity to briefly frame my points, I sounded like the expert Ivan Osorio thought he was hiring in the firts place.
So am I congentially not good at speeches? A little, I think. I’m far better at debating and Q&As than I am crafting a long statement.