Tonight I kept a promise I made to myself, by attending a meeting of an international group dedicated to self -improvement in leadership and communication.

My plan was to keep a low profile. I’d just check it out. Just showing up was a stretch for me. I am not an organizational person.

The group was fairly small, and very welcoming. I was mildly surprised to be asked whether I’d be okay with offering a brief, impromptu speech. Really? On my first visit? No pressure, I was assured. I gave my host a definite “maybe.” After all, I was there to get past my comfort zone.

Normally, three people offer these short talks during a meeting, but due to holes in the program, there was room for six speakers.  The topic for each speech is revealed after the speaker steps to the podium.

The first member volunteered. Topic:  Who, living or dead, would you invite for dinner and why? I could do that!

A second time guest came forward to take on topic number two: Summer is ending. What do you like about fall?  Yes! I’ve got this!

The call came for topic number three.  I decided that the pressure of waiting to be called  was worse than the pain of just stepping up. I raised my hand.

What can you teach us to do?   Jeez- what do I know how to do? Who knew a voice could do Deer in the Headlights?

I managed to stumble through a minute and 30-some seconds (with only one “um”- They count them!)

The remaining questions were: What is your dream vacation and why? (So many possible answers)  What moment in your life  would you re-live? (The most vivid and crowd-friendly  response would be  watching the Queen Mary 2 cruise  into San Francisco Bay,  our little 20 foot boat bobbing  among  a throng of other crafts of all sizes- what a beautiful and surreal afternoon that was) and : When you were very young, what did you want to do when you grow up? (I have half a blog post on that very topic!)

During the 10 minute break in the meeting, I joked with the member who had asked if I would speak, saying that any of the other questions would have been better for me. He was tremendously gracious about my “speech” and suggested that all of the topics might be challenging to the  person behind the podium.

I have to agree.