How Larry King made my trip to Uganda a success

Source: Huffington Post

The past week was challenging for me. I was invited by Africa Blogging to join their network. I had to travel to Kampala to meet the other members and present my blog, Elle Citoyenne. I was afraid not to be good enough for the bloggers of the network, AND I was afraid of speaking in public (this is no special novelty here on Self-Ish).

I never know how to present anything I do.

It is just me doing, nothing more, nothing less. That is why I suck at CVs and motivation letters. So I had to talk in public. The first thing I did was telling them upfront in a mail that I was not comfortable with public speaking, for them not to be surprised with me fainting on stage.

Then I went to a book shop and stumbled on Larry King’s book How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere. Since I was supposed to have a casual chat with people, I had to do everything possible to be on point, my people. I bought the book and did not close my eyes for 10 hours. I was reading on the plane, and I have to say that I learned so much from that book. The first thing it taught me was this :

Be yourself and tell the truth. If you are afraid, say it. If you are uncomfortable, say it. If it is your first time doing what you are doing, say it. Do not pretend to be comfortable and to“know your thing”. It is the best way to be ridiculous and make people have a negative impression of you. Tell the truth.

It seemed I was doing great with the email I sent. By the way, I received nice emails encouraging me not to be afraid. My fingers and toes were crossed. I was praying to do good.

I am never comfortable around people I don’t know. I went to Kampala with Fanta, a very nice lady I knew in Dakar. During the first dinner, I did my best not to be near her, because I knew I would focus on her to be comfortable. I went to a table where a guy was sitting all alone… and we had a great chat for more than an hour.

We talked about blogging, activism, translation, Germany, South Africa, baby boys, baby girls and Frozen. I applied the second rule by Larry King:

Listen and listen carefully, and ask “why”.

There is listening and listening. When you really listen to them, people feel it and are happy to talk to you. When you ask “why”, they feel your interest in what they are saying and are happy to tell you more, because they know you care. That is exactly what happened. Funny thing is the guy I was talking to is the guy in charge of the network. He is kind of my boss!

This second rule made me have great conversations and learn so much from the bloggers I met. Some of them are blogging for ten years and have a community of thousands of people on social media. I listened to them sharing their experience with me and learned from them, thanks to the “why”.

Now let’s get to the real deal. Me talking in public.

I did what I never thought I would do in my life : we were four new members to present our blogs, and I decided to go first. I did for two reasons. I would have been more stressed if I waited for the others to go first, and I wouldn’t have listened to them. I would have been concentrated thinking about what I would say. Plus, Fanta told me three minutes before we left the hotel that she had a PowerPoint presentation, and I had nothing. It was better for me to talk before her!

I did exactly what Larry King advised. I told the truth. I told them why my blog existed, what I was doing on/with it and what I thought about earning money through that blog. The presentation lasted for about 15 minutes, and I was feeling ok, thanks to Larry King.

Me not stuttering

During that trip I even did something I was so afraid to do: I made a video interview of one of the bloggers for my blog. I was so scared of video-interviewing anyone that I kept postponing interviews. I finally did it. I kept only one thing on my mind all through :

Be you and do you.

That is the essence of Larry King’s message. I found myself being the one reassuring the blogger I was filming, telling him everything would be ok, it was “just” an interview.

I think I made a huge step forward during that trip. Thanks to that book, I put my inner self first and felt more comfortable being me. It is too soon to cry victory. I will have to talk in public at least four times and be that comfortable to be sure I am really able to talk in public. For now I will just keep thinking about this great experience and smile of contentment.

Reach me on Ask.fm, I am ready to answer each and every question asked to me.

Hello, my name is Befoune, and I talk about citizen participation and empowerment in my country, Cameroon, on the platform Elle Citoyenne. My dear friend Tchassa Kamga and I created the publication Self-Ish to share our experience in self improvement, content creation and what we call human relationships.