I still get anxious sometimes about public speaking & here’s what I’m doing to make that part of my biz & life
Roughly a week before I launched my E-book, “Blog On a blogging starter kit for entrepreneurs” something happened to me that gave me flashbacks to a “me of a long time ago”.
And basically, it started like this…
I walked to my co-working space, all prepped and ready to go, to be a podcast guest on someone else’s show.
I was definitely excited, and as prepared as I could be. I even booked a meeting room to make the recording look and sound as good as it possibly could be.
Then, as I waited for the company that signed up to use the meeting room an hour before I did to finish their meeting….something happened. Suddenly, my brain was too focused on this itching feeling in my head that I didn’t deserve to be there.
The thing is, when I look back at that moment I realize what a load of bullcrap that it is….
I’ve had the chance to write for a long list of amazing websites and businesses, and many of them are ones I’m genuinely proud to include in my resume and portfolio.
I use the words “many of them” for one, very simple reason. I have had…a few bad client experiences, but that’s a story for another Medium Digest article.
But at that moment, that itching feeling I just described took over my entire body…
- And if you’ve ever been on a first date with somebody absolutely gorgeous, while making a fool of yourself, and that person showed visible signs of boredom.
- Or, at the very least, you’ve attended a job interview or had coffee with someone you admire, while regretting your every word and action.
You likely know the itching feeling I’m talking about (if the scenarios mentioned above sound far too familiar). However, I don’t really think it had anything to do with the host. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have mattered who she was and how she acted.
My brain was so intensely paralyzed with fear that the thoughts in my head didn’t process properly.
We tried to record the episode multiple times. But every single time it happened, my voice would go into “on the verge of tears” mode, and the responses would get stuck in repetition mode.
We…of course didn’t record that episode in the end, and it will likely never go public; but when I look back at that moment, I realize that all the theatre classes and Toastmasters sessions in the world won’t change the fact that I’m a shy introvert.
Something that adds yet another layer to my shy introvert nature is my life experiences living with Dyspraxia. Because of it, I’m prone to feelings of anxiety and I overanalyze everything.
I used to think that I would “come out of my shell” and it would all be a hundred times easier. But that’s not how life works.
Yet, despite all that: I’ve come so far…
I used to run away from occasions where I had to make an impression on a large crowd of strangers.
And it started in my elementary school days.
I was that kid who “didn’t participate enough”, who would struggle to get their voice heard on school presentation days. But once I learned to accept the fact that this aspect of my nature will always exist, I was better off.
Now I have my own podcast, and occasionally make guest appearances on live streams, without sounding like an idiot!
And then an epiphany happened…
This actually helps attract the people I want to attract.
This has helped me get guests on my podcasts, and also clients that are bright, passionate, motivated human beings who have so many amazing thoughts and ideas. They are just so overwhelmingly uncertain about how to communicate their thoughts and experiences with who they want to reach.
In fact, with my podcast, this led to an entire season where most of my guests weren’t experienced, public speakers. Yet, the way I structured my podcast, made them feel comfortable with telling their story, despite that.
I also noticed that last week during a meeting I was being paid to facilitate….
The objective was to help a marketing consultant come up with his first ten blog post ideas, pre-launch. The meeting consisted of three people:
- The writer my client had hired
- And well…my client (of course)
The writer was approaching things with a very writer-like mindset. In other words, they had plenty of ideas about what they wanted to write. They just needed to make sure that those ideas reflected the goals of the content.
And the client thought like a marketing professional but isn’t a writer. Therefore they could talk things through for hours but didn’t know how to make those conversations into content. This lead to a brainstorming session with two people with contrasting strengths and weaknesses, which is amazing and challenging all at the same time.
That’s where I came in. My job was to help them work together on coming up with ideas that lead to results, despite their contrasting strengths, weaknesses, and experiences.
This is where being a person with a history of struggling to get my voice heard can actually be quite empowering…
And I knew that with a ton of confidence during that meeting. Because no one was the loudest or the quietest voice. They were “just equals”.
So if you feel like your quiet nature is stopping you from trying out something new and bold…
I want you to remember that the world needs you. More people just like you need to openly be a quiet personality on camera, on podcasts, and online.
Because even though I freaking love you, my loud, extroverted friends… we need more diverse personalities online. This will help make more people see themselves in the voices that they hear on podcasts, on YouTube, etc.
But let’s be real here. This passionate belief applies to all groups, especially the ones that are rarely in the spotlight. The idea of as many sexual orientations, races, religions, etc being represented online as possible, gets me out of bed in the morning.
And if you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume you care about diversifying the types of personalities and voices on the internet as much as I do.
So what can you do to create that environment where quiet people feel just as welcome as extroverts who could talk to strangers for hours, without getting tired?
Combine group conversations, with quiet reflection and exercises that force you to write and think at your own pace.
This will help give the quiet introvert a pressure-free environment to come up with ideas, and the extrovert a chance to talk through their ideas.
When I used this approach on the writer, and the client, who were both unsure about what they were going to write…
- The introvert was okay with speaking up if they were given time and space to reflect.
- And the extrovert was okay with the quiet reflection if they could talk through their ideas when the timed exercises were over.
So, it’s easier than you think to make them both feel like they got something out of it.
Lastly, let’s go back to the story I told you earlier about the podcast appearance that didn’t go how I expected…
I realize something very important about the public appearances where I’ve thrived. They’ve always either:
- Been scripted ahead of time by myself or the person interviewing me
- (Are) led by like-minded introverts
- Or well…both of these things
I was also far too hard on myself, and this didn’t help. Ever since I have decided to a hundred times more picky about my public appearances. I’ve decided that the only appearances worth my time are ones where I see a bit of myself in the person interviewing me (or their audience).
And I encourage you to take the same approach as well, regardless of your personality type. You’ll sound much more like your best self that way!