Managing Stagefright and Creating Emotional Security
Oh how I’ve grown.
Do you remember way back when I told you all how I used to be so timid that if I had to speak publicly I could hardly breathe and would want to vomit? I was the kid who was a total loner and who couldn’t order her own candy bar. After many years of working on me and learning that I am good enough, I went to a meeting last night and stood up to present a proposal for a club a volunteer for. It is something that I have worked hard at and is a great benefit to my family and my community. At one point my husband said he could present it as I had a migraine. I said no that it was something that I needed to do. I knew what I was talking about and I was not afraid.
I did it and it went well! I wasn’t nervous one bit. Finally one of those old scars removed. Finished. Even though it was a simple presentation the healing that happened was like no other. Quite a few times on the drive out there I wondered what had happened to me. I was not the shattered little soul that I once was. I was not the doormat that I was as a teenager. I worked so hard to get here. I have arrived and I am just now taking it all in. Life is becoming easy and I wanted to share how amazing it feels to be solid, secure and enough.
That’s incredible. Congratulations. Presenting is so difficult, and yet one day it just clicks. Click!
When I first started doing info sessions for Homeopathy, I was living in Invermere. A friend of mine who is about 10 years wiser – and way more committed to challenging her limits, if you can believe it – pushed me into doing a practice presentation for her and one of her friends. They had both been in Toastmasters together. I showed up at my friend’s house, as if I was presenting for real. We had a quick hello, and then I stood up to present. I spoke for about 15 minutes.
Honestly, I only did it because she rode me so hard grrrr. For the weeks before the presentation, she literally nagged me, until I exploded. “What the… it’s fine. I’m not even nervous. It’s going to be so easy!” I’ll never forget what she said: “I know you. You’re going to go in there and wing it. I’m not letting you do that! This is important!” Then she told me she had arranged for her friend to come over the following day, and what time I was to be there. I only did it because I was so shocked by her calling me out! A kind of “I’ll show you…”
I was so glad I did it. They sat there and listened like a real audience that didn’t know me. They said nothing. I gave all my info, and did all my ‘things”, including picking up a retractable pen and spontaneously clicking the button about a thousand times, before slamming it on the pseudo-podium, and then laughing maniacally. It was hysterical to me, and yet the hairy eye ball I got from the woman I didn’t know… well, a hairy eye ball is a hairy eye ball if it lands on something that ridiculous. I stopped laughing immediately and started re-presenting.
At the end, they each spent a few minutes giving me constructive criticism, which I still use today if I have to give a presentation. And yes, NO retractable pens near me when I’m presenting, ever! I flush out my nervous energy as much as possible by “chatting” with the early-comers – they are the most interested anyway. Then I crack a joke to get the laughies out of me. I also bring a white board so I can move around and write down words. It helps keep me organised, and from rambling. I developed a template for my presentations out of those first few in Invermere, and still today, I use that to keep me focused and grounded.
The most important thing that the Toastmaster’s friend said though, after she gave me her suggestions, was a validation. She said: “You have gambled your whole life for this (meaning Homeopathy). I can see that. I can see how hard you’ve worked. You’re going to do really well.” I still imagine her saying that to me every once in a while when I need some encouragement, or it feels like I’m going to fail. It reminds me that with a little practice, I can do anything that scares me.
I love reading your experience here. It feels SO good to challenge yourself, to go beyond your limits and succeed. You and I talk so much about what is the exact abundance of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Well, it’s that. It’s challenging yourself to go beyond your limits.
You are most certainly enough. Looking forward to hearing you declare your next challenge and winning! Solidly. xo
I am also grateful for having a safe place – a welcoming space – to practice my public speaking and presentations. I had to do a few in university of course, where I learned to space out my words on the page to slow me down (yes, fast talker here). But it was when I joined a professional women’s association right after graduation that helped me be a better speaker. The organization had a smaller membership group so it was easy to get to know the other women over several events/dinners. After about a year, I joined the board, and it gave me further opportunities to speak – at the board meetings, and eventually in front of the guests and members. When I looked out in that crowd, I was nervous, but I saw friends and I felt safe. From there, I started speaking at events for my job and again, was nervous – some people can still recall that first speech when I was visibly nervous and perhaps a little pale under the pressure. Having regular, consistent opportunities to speak in front of groups, about topics or tasks that I knew very well helped me – it was steady practice.
And yet for all that, I won’t join or attend toastmasters, though I give it as advice for those who want to be better speakers. My perception is that they will give me a topic and I will have to speak – right then and there with no prep. And prep and understanding the topic really supports my speaking skills. Also, if I don’t know anyone in the crowd, I’m not sure how I would do. Funny how I can have so much experience and yet still feel it was more about the environment than my specific skills. It’s fantastic that you recall the encouragement when you need it!