This Teaching Moment Is Presented By . . .

Oct 10, 2011 by

“Tough week for me. 3 presentations = no sleep, much stress. I hate presentations. Got through it though. Very comfortable in many other settings (negotiations, etc). But I realized something. I need to do more presentations!” Marc Walters

Around three weeks ago, my husband experienced a malevolent possession of sorts. For nearly a week, instead of his typically calm, cool, and collected self, he was agitated, insecure, and preoccupied to the point of sleeplessness. Given the lack of other distractions in our home, like say . . . children, I was very much caught in the web of madness woven by this stranger who called himself my husband. Marc’s agitation became mine. His insecurity called to mine. His nights spent in worry and not sleep left me also surfing the net at ungodly hours of the early morning. We suffered. Almost equally.

The genesis of Marc’s possession started with a looming deadline to give a presentation on the goings on within his department, a video presentation . . . one that would be broadcast to offices around the globe. Yeah, I could see why he was just a bit left of himself. Capable as he is, Marc has never loved the idea of public speaking. I mean, most people don’t, do they? So, with his stomach in knots and the deadline drawing closer and closer, Marc was left with only one option, to prepare. I mean, I know that there were other choices he could make – feign laryngitis, fake amnesia, or quit his job – but c’mon, he’s just not that kind of guy.

With days left before the dreaded presentation, Marc rehearsed his speech before mirrors, recited it in showers, and, finally, wrangled me – fully committed – into his mania. I coached him on his facial expressions, instructed him to “love” his audience even if he couldn’t see them, gave him vocal exercises to do to relax and loosen his facial muscles and we even Skyped with one another in the next room so that we could record and critique his presentation as it would be viewed by his fellow employees . . . around the freakin’ world. Five takes. I think we did five takes. Takes that were laced with obscenities, nervous fidgeting, starts and stops, resignations to throw laptops across the room, more obscenities . . . you get the picture. “Why do I have to DO this?” Marc lamented. “#*$&(@!”

The morning of the presentationS (he had to do two . . . so that people from Asia to Africa could participate), I sent him off with a kiss and a promise to pray for him. I reminded him of how well he had prepared, how incredibly smart he is, and that if he should fall flat on his face, we had some tequila in the cupboard to make it all better that evening. All afternoon I waited anxiously for his call, fingers crossed hoping that the news would be good. It was.

He called relieved and excited by the way his presentation had gone. He even bragged a bit about how non-boring it was. With embellished words, he said, he described with enthusiasm his department’s goals for the upcoming year, the new products they’d be rolling out, and how this was an exciting time in their company’s history. My chest nearly burst from pride. It was over. He did it. He did it well.

Last night before bed Marc told me that there was a survey distributed among those who attended the online presentations over which he had worried so much. They were asked questions like which presenter was most effective, what subject interested you most, which were the best slides, etc. Of all of the other presenters, Marc received the highest scores. Marc was recognized as the best. Of course, he was. My husband. My brave, steady, hero of a husband.

What a lesson for me. What a challenge!

C.S. Lewis said “courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” Marc had courage. He confronted his fear, sacrificed his comfort, invested his efforts, and succeeded. Even as I write this, I realize that he could have done all those things and failed miserably, succumbing to fear, nerves or doubt instead. Either way, he would be a hero to me for at least trying.

I’m grateful for his example and I wanted to share it. If he can do it, pacing the floors, losing sleep, and stumbling forward into the dark of his zone of discomfort, we can too!

Peace and Blessings,


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