The thing about speaking in public is... I still hate it. Loathe it. Get stomach aches over it. But I also still seek out opportunities to do it on a regular basis. So, despite the fact that it's been almost 6 years since I last wrote about speaking in public, and how important a skill it is, talking in public is still a stumbling point for me.
I have come to accept that my process is:
- Agree to give a talk (sometimes I submit proposals, sometimes I'm invited);
- Futz and futz about topic and title for an inordinate amount of time;
- Write furiously and generally hate what I've written;
- Pay way too much attention to the slide-deck, perfecting the flow of the memes and dumb jokes - sometimes to the exclusion of the content;
- Practice and edit my remarks even more until I absolutely loathe them;
- Leave the talk alone until the day before;
- Edit again the night before until I only mildly hate what I've written;
- Panic and breathe funny right before I speak;
- Semi disassociate while I'm talking (honestly, it feels a little like an out of body experience) but somehow make complete sense and never seem nervous;
- Relax, because it's over.
How do I know I made complete sense? By looking at Twitter. I'm actually sometimes amazed when people quote me in a tweet... "I said that? Really? Wow, that's kind of brilliant." Here are a couple of examples:
"Innovation isn't the lightning strike; innovation comes when you keep working at it" - @olinj on blogging #ILEADUSA #innovation— Sarena Deglin (@SarenaDeglin) June 24, 2015
I had only vague memories of saying both of those things when I read them on Twitter. And these weren't the only positive things said. People mentioned the memes and jokes. People mentioned that I gave good advice. Even more, I've been invited to speak other places because of how well my talks have been received. So... I must be doing something right?
All of this is my way of saying that you're never as bad a public speaker as you think, and don't worry if your process doesn't look like what other people do. Yes, plan ahead. Yes, edit. Yes, practice. But beyond that, know you'll be okay. I absolutely dread public speaking, but I keep doing it because I know I have things to say. I also know you have things to say, so no matter your experience - keep talking. We'll listen.