Facing My Fears One Speech at a Time.
If you’ve been here before, you know that I
despise fear public speaking. It stems from my college days when I ran out of a performance class when I forgot my lines.
The roots run deep, friends.
Well it turns out that when I face my fears, usually, I give myself at least twice to do it. Once to do it and screw it all up the first time and then once to do it again, and this time get it RIGHT.
That’s how my Ignite speech on Couch to Triathlon was.
I was actually pretty confident going into it. My speech has been written for weeks. I practiced it enough that I could recall most of it but not perfectly and I knew that the big battle would be the nerves because I tend to blank out in front of people. Notes were going to be a must.
Friday morning, I woke up and did the morning sessions at Fitbloggin. I blew off the early afternoon sessions so I could retreat to my room to practice. I had a meeting to go to in the afternoon, then I came back to my room, hunkered down with some room service ($24 cheese pizza, gotta love room service prices) and practiced some more. Friday could not have been longer, honestly.
I decided ahead of time that I was going to wear my “Triathlon: Punish Your Fear” shirt and yoga pants because I wanted to look sporty without wearing my wetsuit and swim cap which I had considered. (My husband talked me out of it. It would have made for better pictures though I’m sure.)
So then it was time to go down and meet with everyone beforehand.
I quickly realized I was the only one with notes.
Apparently it’s sort of frowned upon.
I didn’t know that, so I scrambled in my mind to try and think about whether or not I would need them and decided that tonight’s speech was about the content for them and the fear for me. I was going to have to own the notes if I was going to get over the fear to deliver the content. No notes? No content. End of story.
Now here’s the thing about “Ignite” style presentations. You are not in control of your slides. You have 5 minutes to talk and you have 20 slides and they move on their own whether you’re ready or not every 15 seconds.
You gotta stay on point and keep your sh*t together.
I had practiced a lot. My words matched up with the slides.
And as the keynote began and I watched seasoned speakers wing their way through these presentations brilliantly, I began to cower a little at my note-laden self.
These were amazing speeches! They were funny! They were on-point! Smooth. And without notes!
I began to sweat a lot. With each passing person I knew it was closer to my turn.
My stomach hurt.
Then it was really time. I was 7th in the lineup. My name was called. It was time to deliver.
I wanted to poo.
Oh dear God please hold off on the poo.
I took my turn behind the podium.
I began to speak and honestly I don’t remember much of this 5 minutes, I thought it would be the longest 5 minutes of my life but really it was the shortest. It’s all a blur.
I remember people laughing when I hoped they would. I remember thinking, “yay.”
There was one point where I thought I got lost and began to want to die and then pulled it together and moved on. My friends said they didn’t notice. I have good friends.
I finished and as always when I do things for the first time, thought, “Well that could’ve gone better.”
And then I proceeded directly to the bar for the wine. I found Caroline and Maggie and they bought me a drink. I needed it. Thanks guys.
Caroline tried to take a picture of us but she only got me (sort of):
After the wine, I felt better about the whole thing.
I was in some pretty amazing company with the speeches that night, I’m honored.
As it turns out, 2 other people did use notes and that made me feel a little more comfortable in the end.
But as soon as I decided I’d never do this again, and after some amount of wine, I realized that it’s important that I must. I must do this one more time at least.
Because I have important information to deliver to people and the only obstacle in doing so is me! Maybe no one wants to hear what I have to say and that’s fine too, but I really do love writing and making people laugh. But the most gratifying part of this was getting tweets and messages from people saying I have indeed, convinced them to try a triathlon. And that just makes me cry the happy kind.
So this next time my goal will be to do it without notes and I think I figured out the way that I can. Now that I’ve done it, I know how to do it better. I may still want to poo, but I have to give it a shot.
I can’t just hide behind the computer with my words forever.
I’m still a work in progress. (Aren’t we all?)
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