Stepping up, and over imposter syndrome.
After 3 years, I gave my first ever talk at a coworking conference.
I was so nervous leading up to my session. I kept fighting off that little voice inside my head that was prodding me about whether what I’d be sharing would be annoyingly obvious or even useful to the people who had chosen my discussion session, the final slot of the first day.
Luckily someone once told me that, “being nervous was a great sign that you care, both about what you’re saying and about the audience”.
And so I took comfort in the fact that I did, and do, care so much about both.
Even though the audience was mostly filled with strangers, these were strangers who for one reason or another were operating, running or supporting communities that enabled real entrepreneurship within their local ecosystems.
I’d launched my company, and prepared this presentation in order to help make communities like theirs even more valuable and sustainable; all in order to make entrepreneurship even more accessible all around the world.
However, and even though over 20,000 members at 237 communities could already grow faster thanks to shared buying-power, I still felt like a bit of an outsider, having only ever met around 5% of the operators/managers of our partner communities worldwide in person.
The fact that I’ve never actually spoken publicly about why we do what we do also added to the feeling of being an imposter in this room.
I’m sure you’re expecting me to say that I got out and smashed it, and that everything went awesomely. But, the fact that it didn’t allowed me to not only get over that voice inside my head, but also showed me how welcoming this community of community operators truly is in real life.
On slide 2, the mic went a little loopy. Obviously.
Not an amazing start, but I realised that these awesome people still wanted to hear what I was saying, and noone has ducked for the door already, even though I’d barely introduced myself via an ultra-summarised version of my coworking story so far.
So I took a deep breathe in (the ridiculous cliché is not lost on me) and put all my focus on projecting my voice, and speaking a little more clearly, so that the people in the back could hear what I came to share without the mic’s help.
The slides went down well, and the content seemed to find it’s place in almost all the notepads that were being scribbled in across the room. But the best part, in my opinion, was the audience’s interaction during and long after the presentation.
It seemed that they had mostly forgotten about the mic issue, interacted throughout the talk and asked superb questions afterwards. This lead to multiple insightful and valuable discussions which rolled over and into the next day of the conference.
Now that we’re going into the final day of the conference, I already can’t wait to take part in the next one. And if I’m giving a talk, I’m certain I’ll still be nervous, but for all the right reasons.
A massive thank you to everyone who attended the discussion session and that have connected with me since. You’ve made it superbly clear that you are the people and communities that we should be supporting and enabling, every single day.
Cheeky plug: We’re organising and coordinating a global coworking gift-exchange this December via included.co/secretsanta to spread even more joy across the coworking world. Register or ping me for more information. :)