This post has long been overdue. Everyone who knows me reasonably well knows that I stammer from time to time. Sometimes the stammering is bad and sometimes I don’t stammer at all. Indian society perceives this as funny for some reason. The situation is worsened as the Bollywood industry projects those who stammer in slapstick comedy roles.
While there is little sensitivity shown towards those who stammer in India, I find that the North fares far better in this regard than the South where I would be mocked and ridiculed in my face! I have had a teacher laugh at me in class when I was stammering whilst giving her an answer. It’s not something I would want anyone to ever go through at that age point.
In the last 2 years, I have been offered a few chances to speak at events and I have always declined or made excuses for the fear of stammering on stage – in front of everyone!
Then last year, the inflection point happened. The Ignite Mumbai team approached me with an offer to come up with an interesting topic and speak at their event. ‘How to catch a bus seat’ has been in my head since forever and I have always wanted to make a cool presentation of it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity.
I kept delaying the presentation, thinking in my head that I will ditch at the last moment. On the day of the event however, I woke up, made the presentation and sent it to Aviraj, asking him what he thought of it. He replied saying he liked it – which for me was a great confidence booster.
When I woke up that day, I went through the possible outcomes of the talk in my head. I could either do a super job of it and everyone would love me and my topic (yeah, am kinda filmy like that) or, I would ruin it with my constant stammering. I decided this moment is not going to come again and the worst that could happen would be random strangers laughing to my face. “Like that hasn’t happened before”, I thought to myself with a smile.
Fast forward to my talk, here are things that went thru my head when I was on stage: I walk on stage – can barely see the audience – the talk starts – damn, should have rehearsed atleast once!!! – need to speak slowly, don’t have much to say per slide – wow, these guys are laughing. Not bad at all – stammering, but looks like these guys don’t really mind!! – made it, yarimashita!!
What I realised that day that the worst that can happen if you screw up and stammer on stage is that most people will just laugh at you, and frankly, it has happened too many times now for it to bother me anymore. I don’t hesitate anymore. I am not afraid.
Here is the video of my talk from the Ignite Mumbai YouTube Channel,
…and the presentation deck of How To Hack Your Way To a Bus Seat: