Saturday evening. The epic conclusion everyone had been waiting for was finally here. It was the EPIC event with the Avery’s!
I had been waiting this event for quite some time: I couldn’t wait to hear the other speeches, the magic show and the MC awesomeness known as Paula. As far as I heard, 200 individuals had registered: a couple of my friends and parents were among the list. Those numbers were fairly similar to the District Contest and that gave me comfort: I felt like I had a good idea of when the audience would laugh. Margaret Page and Carol Carter gave truly inspirational speeches. Jay the Magician had the audience in tears of laughter in and amongst his magic act, AND I’m considering asking Paula if she may want to MC my wedding (assuming it happens in this lifetime). Ryan and chelsea? The audience was eating out of their hands, no question about it. They were great, the event was EPIC.
Perhaps it was the self-perceived similarities that had me make a major (almost debilitating) assumption. I had been advised to arrive over an hour early for sound check, to which I did. There were some minor technical difficulties with the sound system but there would be plenty of time. I was running around with the Avery’s camera (did Ryan just ask if I would be willing to take some pictures?!) and I slowly began to notice nobody was calling me for sound check. I managed to flag down Paula and ask her about the microphones; there was no more time to practice, but I wanted to know when we would need to go and get hooked up (so I wouldn’t put a snag into the show). Amazing person that she was/is, Paula went to find out. When she came back, she had a hand-held microphone in her hands. She told me I could use that if I needed to. Huh?
The truth slowly dawned on me. The sound check was meant for Ryan alone. I hadn’t felt so stupid and humiliated in quite some time.
My mom told me later I seemed more nervous at the epic event than at the District Contest. At the District Contest, I felt I knew enough of what to expect to feel comfortable. The sound check (though inhumanly early) gave me a chance to practice and get used to hearing my own voice through the speakers: I knew how much “force” to use to get the desired vocal variety. At the epic event, I found out I wouldn’t have a microphone until about three to five minutes before the event started. Sure, I did have the hand-held mic, but in my mind three minutes prior to start time (given the content of my speech) was too close to start figuring out how to incorporate a microphone in one hand. Was it my fault for not double checking? Maybe. Regardless, there was no time to practice in a near-empty room and find out if my voice could project to the very back wall. I would have to wing it. I don’t do great when I wing it.
As I was listening to all the other speakers, I was frantically trying to repeat one phrase to myself. Project with your diaphragm, not your voice. Use your diaphragm, not your vocal chords. I was trying so hard not to go back in time and turn 14 again.
When I was 14, I signed up for my high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet and landed a speaking role (for a high school theatre that was smaller than the auditorium housing the EPIC Event). One rehearsal, a teachers sat in the back row to ensure all the cast members would be able to project their voices. I was the only one that couldn’t. While every other cast member only had to use their normal speaking voices, I could only be “loud enough” when I was screaming out my lines. Something told me screaming out my humorous speech would not be funny.
The show must go on. I went out there and did my speech anyway, constantly concentrating on trying to project my voice. Everyone laughed at the right places and everyone congratulated me afterwards for a more polished speech. It had been another great delivery, but a part of me had to admit my mother (like all superhuman mothers) was right. At the District Contest I was just having a blast. Although at the Epic event I had a great time too, I always had one paralyzing thought in the back of my mind: am I loud enough?
The audience was amazing by being as quiet as a pin-drop when I wasn’t delivering my jokes. I think the acoustics in the room helped a lot too. When I woke up the morning after, my parents (whom had been sitting in the second to last row) told me they could hear my speech, but my voice definitely did not project nearly as well as any of the other speakers there that night.
I’ll take this half victory, and I’ll try to remember all the inspirational things I heard that night from Paula, Margaret, Carol, Jay, Gene, Ryan, chelsea, and anyone else I may have missed. Good night.