Public Speaking: Achievement Unlocked

Today marks a milestone for me.

On behalf of the Canterbury Development Corporation, I presented a 3 hour SEO workshop to a group of small to medium business owners based in Christchurch. Nothing too unusual about that, I’ve run workshops before and have presented at conferences and seminars quite a few times over the years.

But what made today different was that it was the very first time I can remember NOT being nervous prior to the event.

Let me explain. I HATE public speaking. Ok, so most people hate it. But the idea of speaking in public makes me sweaty palms anxious and physically ill.  My legs wobble while I’m up on stage, I develop a deer-in-the-headlights stare and I tend to mumble or speak too fast in the hope that the whole ordeal will be over faster. Consequently, I’m not very good at it. Think Bridget Jones without the amusing vocabulary.

But I continue to accept speaking opportunities and MAKE myself go through it. Why? Because I don’t like things that scare me and I want to conquer the fear. I’ve had other people tell me that the more you speak in public, the better you get and the less it intimidates you, so I’ve followed their advice and keep saying YES to situations requiring me to address an audience.

Today, that persistence seems to have paid off. It’s true I was a little jittery yesterday as it dawned on me I would be speaking in front of an audience in a few hours, but that initial fear lasted about 20 minutes. I slept well last night and today, I woke up feeling great. A gym class in the morning got my adrenalin flowing and by the time 1pm rolled around I was feeling confident and, (for the very first time), actually excited about the idea of getting up in front of an audience. I kept waiting for the butterflies to announce themselves in my stomach but they never came!

I spoke more confidently than ever before, had fun with the attendees and enjoyed myself from start to finish. It helped that I had prepared really well, made my slides interesting and interactive, plus I had a very responsive audience. I’m sure all these things contributed, but after 10 years of public speaking terror,  today felt like a huge personal milestone and I’m very proud to have passed it.

Now, if I could just conquer my fear of clowns.

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