Ok – so for those of you that have followed my blog… I DID IT!!! I conquered my fear of Public Speaking last month at OrgPro and I actually DID IT! What an amazing feeling it was to share my story, step out of my comfort zone and in to the spot light. Sure I was terrified up until the very moment I took the stage (and during the 5 minute presentation)… but I DID IT! I accepted the challenge and I DID IT!
In case you missed the Ignite presentations, you can view them at the following link: Ignite Presentations (my presentation falls around the 45 minute mark.)
So, let me tell you what this experience was like for me. I spent several months and countless hours gathering my thoughts, reflecting on my story, exploring a whole new territory, and trying to figure out how to make the words actually come out. I joined with my fellow Ignite presenters on two occasions to practice and modify our presentations. What a wonderful opportunity it was to join together, develop this unique bond, learn from each other, and enter this experience as we each developed our own speaking platforms. I spent a good two weeks prior to the OrgPro practicing. I practiced over and over, and then practiced some more. Even throughout the conference, I found myself distracted -rehearsing in my head while sitting in the middle of keynote sessions.
When I woke up the morning of July 11 (which was the Ignite presentation day), I was a wreck. My mind and heart were filled with all sorts of emotions and doubts. I decided to go for a run to help shake some of the jitters, which seemed to help a bit. And then slowly put myself together. I continued to practice my presentation over and over. I met up with several of the other Ignite presenters and then we practiced some more.
The hour before the Ignite session, we gathered as a group again to run through the slide deck of our presentations to make sure our images were appearing properly, and to try to eliminate some of the nerves. Finally, the moment came. The presentations were under way… five minutes at a time… one by one and I paced anxiously until it was my turn.
As Aaron Wolowiec CMP, CAE from Event Garde began my introduction I could feel extreme excitement and emotion flooding in. Somehow, the nerves were settling down at this point. I grabbed a few tissues and then I took the stage. I took a few deep breaths and away I went. I delivered my presentation just as I had when I had practiced – with a few modifications, extra pauses to catch my breath, and a few tears. I finished my presentation, and exited the stage and glanced out to the audience. To my surprise I was overwhelmed with emotion when I saw that everyone was standing, applauding… FOR ME! I can’t even begin to express what a surge I felt at that moment; extreme pride, excitement, emotion, and everything in between. Thinking back to that moment, I’d have to compare that feeling to what runners must feel like when they finish a marathon.
Now that I’ve done it once, I can tell you my confidence level has sky rocketed. I am continually getting stronger and stronger – both professionally and personally. So…WHAT’s NEXT you ask? I’m going to do it again!
A few weeks ago I received an email from Aaron Wolowiec that the Michigan Works! conference was inviting our Ignite group to be part of their Ignite presentation in September. I thought to myself, why not? So here I go again – making a few slight modifications to the content of my original presentation, practicing, practicing, and practicing some more. There will be four of us from our original group participating in this next Ignite session (which is a much larger scale and attended conference).
I’m extremely excited for this next opportunity and to share my story with others. Not only that, I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to document such an emotional and profound experience in my life that I will be able to look back on… and for my kids to see some day as well. If you ask me… I’d have to say that I did exactly what Ignite presentations are meant to do… “to inspire and to enlighten.”
Could this possibly be the start of a speaking career for me? One never knows, but I’m definitely not going to close the door on this chapter. I’ll keep taking things one day at a time, exploring whatever opportunities come along. In the meantime, I sure am enjoying the ride!
What are some of your greatest professional or personal accomplishments? How did you feel during the process? How did you feel afterwards? Would it be something you would do again?
Written by Michelle Triantaflos, CMP, CTA – Event Manager at The James B. Henry Center for Executive Development