“You were 7 and I was 12..” I began my mock book pitch for my international publishing course. Class had technically ended 10 minutes ago, but my teacher asked us all to stay behind for one last pitch. Mine. In our last class on a Friday. I just wanted to get it over with.

I’d gone over my pitch over and over and over again the night before, pacing my living room, trying to keep my voice low as to not wake up my boyfriend. First, I’d open with a dramatic reading of the breathtaking dedication poem, then flow into a brief synopsis of the novel, highlighting some of the most unique characters from the impoverished neighborhood in which it was based. I would end the summary on a high note with mention of a little boy who’s tale taught me I could gasp simultaneously from tears and laughter. Then I’d segue into the author’s background, pinpoint the cross-relevance of this story’s key themes into all markets with immigrant populations. Finally, I’d finish with a carefully thought out thinking point.

Or so I thought. Being last to present and having intense stage fright made all of that harder then I’d hoped. Somewhere in the middle of the opening poem, my voice started to quaver. One by one, my disinterested classmates put down their phones and began to look up at me as I spoke.

“Oh shit,” I realized. “They can hear how nervous I am. They can see me flailing. I must sound absolutely pathetic.”

Even more students were staring at me now. Somehow, I just kept talking. I mixed up the order I wanted to describe the characters in. But I kept talking. The more they looked at me, the closer I felt to passing out. Then something peculiar happened. It’s like my mind went blank, but my mouth just kept right on talking. I did the rest of the pitch on auto-pilot, not even listening to myself anymore. Who knows what I said. Before I knew it, my presentation was over, my classmates were clapping politely and my teacher was shaking my hand. When she dismissed the class, I rushed out mortified.

The weekend put some much needed separation between the class and my disappointment. On the Monday, my friend Alexander told me, “I’m so mad I was sick and didn’t get to see your book pitch on Friday. I heard it was really good.”

“You heard MY book pitch was really good?” I repeated, unconvinced. “Are you sure about that?”

“Yeah, that’s what everyone’s saying. That yours and Paula’s were the best. You guys knocked it out the park.”

I smiled politely. Obviously he’d been misinformed. Paula had been amazing, but I had struck out up there. Maybe he’d misheard who the second person was. I was just grateful that nobody had told him about how I’d sputtered through the whole thing. How the entire class had just stared at me, emotion in their eyes, pitying me.

But throughout the week, Alexander’s sentiments were repeated. More classmates, who had been present, told me they’d loved my pitch. They said they wanted to read the book! I couldn’t understand it. When we got our marks back, even my teacher had given me nearly a perfect score. She commented that I could have a real future in international publishing. Me. The basketcase who couldn’t control her stage fright. What was going on? Had we all been in the same room?

Eventually, I asked another classmate about my pitch. I asked her how shaky and stupid I must have looked, out there in front of them all.

“I didn’t notice you were nervous at all,” she shrugged, “you seemed so poised.”

“Poised!?” I exclaimed. “But then why was everyone looking at me like that?!”

She smiled, “because they were interested in what you had to say.”

Who would’ve thought?

2018

51 thoughts on “The Pitch

  1. So glad it went so well. I used to teach public workshops on stress release, communication and various wellness topics. I even taught in government offices and other business’s. I was fine if I was doing my own material but when I agreed to teach for another company and present their material I was a nervous wreck. For my own work I would get nervous ahead of time but once it started going I was fine. It is so hard thought to ascertain how the audience is responding and self criticism can get carried away.

    Did you ever go into publishing or do more public speaking?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that sounds like such a good experience teaching those things! People probably really benefited from your work.

      I’m working in publishing now, but luckily not in a job that involves too much public speaking. I still do pitches and demonstrate products, but usually one-on-one, which I much prefer.

      Thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really eye opening. Sometimes we get so stuck in our own heads, in our own interpretation of reality, it’s hard to see the bigger picture.

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Like

    1. Haha, I’ve had those moments too. When I’d finished a read through of a script I’d written in high school that I’d been particularly proud of, my teacher just stared at me and said, “I didn’t understand a word you just said.” because I’d been so nervous I’d rushed through it. Whoops!

      Thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. Stage fright isn’t an uncommon feeling, especially when it comes to presentations and performances. I used to be super nervous when I was a teacher, as I was “presenting” every day to class sizes of 30+ students. But honestly, what you think might be the “worst” presentation you’ve given doesn’t appear that way to others; they can’t read your mind, and most of the time, they think you did well! Congratulations on the pitch, by the way!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes! I taught as well, and I even found of some of those days where I felt like I hadn’t done my personal best, my students never noticed. It’s all about perception, I guess.

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant!!! One of those occasions where your self perception totally misleads you and the results are stupendous!!!!! What a shame it wasn’t vidoed so that YOU could see how good you were. Like Greg, I want to read the book!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Alexis, firstly thank you for visiting my site, I’m glad you liked my post Frustrated with Making Money Online.
    The nearest I got to public speaking was when reading outload at school, when my brain supplied words that were not written on the page I was reading! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As I’ve always said, never mistake composure for ease. I’m the same way–calm and collected on the outside but dying inside. God I hate presenting and interviews are the worst, but I manage to do both well. Sounds like you deserved the praise and I admire your perseverance!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had a similar experience when I took my first acting class as a sophomore in high school. We had to do monologues in front of the class and I had never acted before. I was so nervous sitting through all the other student monologues, I remember thinking, β€œHow can I ever live through this experience?” I was the last student to present and somehow I managed to remember every word and I really felt every moment of it. But when I finished silence filled the auditorium. No one clapped. No one moved. No one said a word. Thankfully, the bell rang and everyone just left. I felt terrible. Everyone else had gotten applause after their monologue and all I got was silence. I was devastated. It was only later – at one of our classes – that someone finally said to me, β€œYou are really good.” I asked, β€œWhy didn’t anyone applaud?” β€œNobody could believe how good you were. We were stunned.” Sometimes our inner critic is worse than any outside critic we know.

    Like

    1. Yes! I think about this all the time. Perception is such an interesting thing, and such a big part of how we interact with each other.

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Like

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