Those of you who follow the blog regularly will know how I feel about speaking in public, particularly when it is to a crowd of adults that I’ve never met before. So, when I was asked to speak about blogging to an audience of local businesswomen and entrepreneurs at an event with the Stilettos Network, I couldn’t shake the nauseated feeling that appeared at the pit of my stomach. It’s the usual insecurity that I’ve talked about on so many occasions, the tiny little voice that overpowers any rational thought in my mind. The one that, despite my inner confidence of all things blogging, will convince me in advance that my opinions are irrelevant and ultimately I will be laughed out of the room.
Still, it was an incredible opportunity and a rare chance to talk about blogging and how it has influenced and changed my life all evening with people who actually wanted to listen – I’m very lucky to have support from my family and friends, but there is only so much that can be said before that familiar glazed expression creeps across the eyes of those that I am jabbering at.
I was blessed to be talking alongside Justice Williams, MBE, and Jodie Cook – both highly successful women in their own right, and I was grateful that I would be speaking last as it gave me the opportunity to take some notes on how both of them presented themselves. I loved listening to their stories and how relaxed they were as they were speaking, and I was so inspired that, when it was my turn, I decided to go for it and see what would happen.
It was probably one of the best blogging experiences that I’ve ever had.
I must have been stood there for a while, but time seemed to fly. The nerves disappeared and I really enjoyed myself, and the response I got afterwards was far more than I could ever had expected. I got the chance to meet so many new people, and I could relate to so many of their stories – particularly one who is in the stressful job as a Head of Department in a secondary school.
As always, there is something to be learned from a new experience, and I learned a lot:
- Be confident in your knowledge and your abilities. You wouldn’t have received the invitation to speak in the first place if your opinion and experience wasn’t deemed to be valued. Be aware that the audience is there to learn from you, not to put you down.
- For goodness sake, smile! Having to listen to someone with a blank expression becomes boring after a while. A nice, natural smile will encourage others to smile back, and I was conscious of appearing warm and friendly as soon as I stood up.
- Add a bit of humour where possible! Serious can become intense and off-putting after a while!
- Try not to go off-track – stay focused around the question being asked and avoid going off on a tangent. This is something that I did on several occasions and had to consciously bring myself back to my original point. I found it confusing, so I must have confused my audience a little at times too.
- Be prepared to say ‘I don’t know,’ and make no apologies for it. In my Q & A I was asked about vlogging and a particular plug-in, both of which I know nothing about, and I was honest about this. I do, however, know people who have a good knowledge of both of these topics, so I offered to put members of the audience in contact with them if they wanted more information.
What a revelation! This looks to be the first of many that I will be doing in the next few months, along with the opportunity of further networking, and hopefully, making new friends… and I’m so excited!
What about you guys? How do you feel about speaking in public?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.
Sounds like a great thing to do well done! I don’t like speaking in front of people either, but I’ve never shied away from it and I kind of go into auto mode on the rare occasion I have to do it. What a great thing to be talking about blogging though. 🙂
I keep pinching myself – what an amazing opportunity! What sort of things have you had to speak at Simon?
I’ve mainly had to speak in front of work colleagues, which I hate because they’re more ready to question you on the spot.
I can relate – I hate having to speak in front of other teachers because there is always that one who wants to try and catch you out!
Yup, that’s it. There’s always a critic. I think it’s best to deal with them with humour lol
Geez! Well done, Suzie. I’d have crumbled. 😁
I doubt it Richard – if your speaking voice is anything like your poetry then you’ll be amazing!
Hahaha! I walked right into that one!
What a fabulous experience, Suzie. I’m so glad it went well and thank you for sharing your tips (I’ve got to give a talk in November and feel a bit jittery!) 😊
Oooh that’s exciting! What are you going to be doing the talk on?
I’m talking at the Mind, Body, Spirit fair at the NEC on happiness!
Well I couldn’t think of anything more perfect for the happiest person I’ve ever met!
Well I guess you know me… I’ll chat anywhere!!!! 😄
Haha! You seem really confident in real life!
I think it stems from being the youngest cousin in a huge group of very loud, extrovert people. If you didn’t want to get forgotten, you needed to be confident to speak out!!!!
I have panic attacks. This includes interviews as well. What I can say that was a game changer was Lorazipam. Taking one simply made the butterflies in my tummy take a nap. Thats all it does.
I’ve never taken anything and my panic attacks have subsided now my job role has changed…However, some of my friends do and they say how life-changing they are
It can be very helpful during certain events.
Sounds like you did an awesome job! Way to go!
I love public speaking! I do a lot of it at work and I’d love to get the opportunity to do some speaking engagements related to my blog someday 🙂
I’m certainly more of fan of it now than I was haha! What sort of public speaking do you have to do in your job?
I have had to give loads of presentations and I do a lot of tutoring.
Wish I was well enough known and regarded to be asked to speak at such an event. You and I started blogging about the same time, and look at the difference between us. I would say you are wildly and rightfully successful and I remain the paste behind the wall paper.
Good for you, Suzie, good for you – well earned.
Thanks so much for your kind words Sharon… There is no difference – we both write on blogs! Don’t forget that you took a large amount of time off too!
Congrats on breaking through this barrier! It gets easier and easier. In my 40s I was forced to train my summer staff each year and grew to enjoy it; then I applied for a university lecturer position 5 years ago and never looked back! When you’re passionate about something it is easy to present it to others. And you are, about blogging!
I think that was the thing that really helped Terri, the fact i was talking about something that I was passionate about! Thank you!
Wasn’t it Seinfeld who said that people fear death less than they fear public speaking, so, at a funeral, they’d rather be in the box than in front of it? 😀 I must say I’m not a fan at all, but once I get going I’m not too bad – it’s the nerves beforehand that really get to me.
And well done you! What a fabulous experience and opportunity – I hope there are many more to come 🙂 xx
Thanks Helen! Is it bad that I’ve never seen an episode of Seinfeld?
No, not at all! There are plenty of shows I’ve never seen. I think Seinfeld was just on at a certain time in my life when I watched more TV 🙂 Don’t know how it would stand up now, but I remember how different it was when it came out, and how much it made me laugh.
Glad it went well
Thanks Steve, i kept thinking about all the advice you gave me a while ago… it really helped!
I think it’s incredibly awesome that you get these speaking opportunities. Have you videotaped your presentations and put them on YouTube? You should share them here. It would be cool to see. As an aside, if anyone over there wants to provide me with airfare and a hotel stay, I’ll speak on blogging to anyone. I love public speaking and need another reason to go to Britain.
Thanks so much Phil! You need to start saving up for next year’s Bloggers Bash!
I’m glad that you had a good experience with this!
Suzie, this sounds like a life changing and amazing experience, and I couldn’t be happier for you.:) Your conquered your fear, bravo! A lot of us can relate to public speaking (not just in the blogging community, but throughout the world,) because it is the number one most common fear. It is one that plagues me, too. If I absolutely have to do it, I would, but you won’t see me volunteering!
I look forward to following your blogging journey!
Thanks so much Dustin! I’m so looking forward to the others now!
You’re welcome.:) I bet you are. I’m glad that this experience opened your eyes and mind to the positivity of public speaking.
Well done Suzie – it’s not easy. I once suffered a full blown panic attack and could barely speak a few years ago when giving a presentation as part of a course (it’s a long story – I may do a post about it.. ) However, hypnotherapy helped and I’ve since developed some strategies that help me and I’ve got to quite enjoy it now. I’d love to go on a ‘top notch’ course on becoming a professional speaker though.. Fab post x
Thanks so much Wendy! What would be the best piece of advice you have for people wanting to do public speaking?
Practice practice practice – Out loud and standing in front of a mirror so you get used to hearing the sound of your own voice… Often people have it all written down with fancy powerpoint presentations and then ‘read’ from the screen and it doesn’t sound right when it’s spoken aloud… Then as you said Suzie – Try to enjoy the experience as the enthusiasm will come across in the spoken word…keep smiling! x
That’s great – thanks so much Wendy! I’ve had to sit through so many death-by-powerpoints over the years and it’s so boring!
Me too. I had to do a presentation for my job a few months ago – they wanted powerpoint so I just put a picture and no words on every page! I did get the job but not sure it went down too well with a couple of the interview panel who were a bit old fashioned and wanted to ‘see the statistics’ – ah well.. x
You’ll never be able to please everybody, but I bet most people loved it!
Yep – I enjoyed it anyway – I didn’t have a panic attack!! x
I’m not too bad in public, but you have nothing to worry about, Suzie… you’re a blogging superstar!
I’m the one who has crapped out on every level when it comes to his writing/pitching.
You’re an inspiration.
Aww bless you, what a lovely thing to say… and I love your posts, stop putting yourself down!
I’ll try, but it’s an uphill battle.
I understand… Just remember you’re a legend…
…in my own mind?
Well done – not an easy thing to do! The last time I gave a talk, I videoed myself doing it at home and then watched it back before refining it. It really helped me to iron out annoying bits!
I’ve done that before when teaching, but I absolutely hate watching myself back – it’s a negative experience! I’d rather be blissfully unaware of some things as i end up being even more self-conscious!
I’m actually still a little nervous about speaking in public. I make YouTube videos outside whereas before I’d never do that. To hell with fear. I want to be more open.
That’s such a positive attitude to have Chris! I would never make a YouTube video – so scary!
Great post, Suzie!