If you know me, you would know that I struggle with public speaking. No matter the crowd- even in one of my small classes of six students in college- I was very nervous. Nevertheless I still end up doing public speaking a lot in my life and though it is a challenge, it always turns out to be worth it.
At The Dale on Mondays, we have a lunch program where we gather and create a large meal with the community and enjoy it together. It is one of our biggest programs as there can be over 100 people on an average Monday. It’s one of my favourite times of the week because I get to eat side by side with friends and make new ones as well.
Before passing the food around the room, a few announcements are shared by Erinn, Joanna, Pete, and I to the seated crowd. The first Monday that I was asked to announce the schedule for the week was quite the experience. When it was my turn to speak, the whole room went quiet, not just a hushed whisper kind of quiet, but an absolute silence, as if no one even dared to move.
It took me by surprise as I explained the schedule and tried my best to speak loudly so that they didn’t have to be so quiet. But, I realized, though my poor volume may have been part of the reason, they also were simply respecting a new speaker.
I talked to my co-worker Joanna about it and she described her first experience to be the same, saying “you could hear a pin drop in the room”.
I realized this more the next week I spoke because the community clapped when I finished announcing, which is not something they usually do during announcements. I felt encouraged and I think that was their motive. They know I’m a newbie so they did what they could to make me feel welcome.
Each day I show up to help, but I am always amazed by how much more the community helps me. I want to make sure people feel welcome in the space, but they do that for me in so many ways.