I found myself sitting at the head table this past Sunday afternoon with an executive director and her staff, for a 50th anniversary celebration. I had been invited to do a 30 minute presentation as part of their program.
As I was working on my salad, I heard the snippet of a conversation, between the director and one of the staff…
“You’ll do fine! A little nervousness is normal.”
Since the director and I were in the same boat, (both experiencing “pre-presentation” jitters) I joined the conversation.
A little background….
I am not one of those people who loves the limelight. Just the opposite. I prefer the back row. (That way I can quietly slip out if I need to use the little boys’ room.)
I’ve mentioned portions of my story before but when I was 22, I realized
shyness low self-esteem was hamstringing my life on multiple fronts.
I was sick and tired of it.
On a lark I stopped by the office of a friend who also happened to be a nun trained in social work. (She seemed like a safe person.)
I looked across the desk, told her my story and said, “Can you help me? Do you have any suggestions?”
And over the course of time, (we’re talking months/ not 30 minutes) little by little, large chunks of my inner crap began to be dealt with.
I have lost track of the number of times now I have spoken in public, in various settings…at least a couple of hundred. To this day however, I still experience jitters every time.
There are lots of helpful books, articles, courses, etc. on public speaking, dealing with anxiety in front of a crowd, low self-esteem, yada, yada, so rather than just regurgitate 10 suggestions you can pick up in a workshop, I wanted to give you a glimpse into what was going on in little old me this past Sunday afternoon.
Two images were playing nonstop on the screen of my mind…
The first clip was an Olympic wrestler I saw several years ago on TV. As the camera man panned the event, he stopped on a wrestler, sprawled out on his back, taking a nap. I can still remember the commentator talking about it. In just a few minutes, this wrestler was going to be center stage vying for an Olympic metal, and yet there he was, asleep. He was in the zone. He had tuned out all of the distractions and found his happy place (my words now/ not the TV commentator.) 😉
SO..whenever I find myself in the final hours leading up to something that is giving me jitters, I think of that wrestler.
The second thing playing on the screen was even more powerful….and this one wasn’t “playing” as much as it just was….
The tiger that lives inside of me
photo compliments of google
I sensed this tiger pacing back and forth. Last Sunday was the most pronounced I’ve ever felt it. It was like he was pacing back and forth in my mind. Ever few minutes he would shove his shoulder against the door of the cage to see if it was still locked.
He wanted out.
I rarely give a presentation on anything unless I’m feeling passionate about the subject.
So Sunday afternoon, after an introduction, I got out of my seat, walked up to the podium….
and out jumped the tiger.
They say speaking in public is a common fear. Do you have it? Have you done it ? (spoke in public) Tell me about it.