While I consider myself a good speaker with an important message, I am still learning how to stand in my own power and create a pre-talk ritual that helps me to be focused and centered. Earlier this month, I got the chance to see how far I have come, and how much further I have to go. When there was a change in the conference schedule, and I got bumped up a half hour, I created a scenario in my mind about the reason, and never confirmed it with the conference director. I decided that I was going to be presenting before the humorist that was originally scheduled to go before me. We were part of a speaker showcase, where the audience members could choose to hire us for their own conferences. I was happy to be going before someone who would make the group laugh, especially knowing that my talk was much more serious.
When I arrived at the conference, I was taken aback to find out that the conference schedule was still the same, except that everything was taking place 30 minutes earlier, which meant I was still following the humorist. And I was the last event of the entire conference! I had created a false safety net in my mind, which was not based in fact, just my own wishing that it was true.
As I laughed along with the crowd and waited my turn, I felt the fear creep into my body and I worried about all the things I had no way of controlling. One of the things you learn as a speaker is to expect the unexpected. And the only way to get better at handling the unexpected is by continually being thrown into situations that make you uncomfortable- No lapel mic, only half the audience because it was the very end of the day, the slides were not ready to go, etc.
In the past I would have beaten myself up because I didn’t do my best, because the presentation wasn’t perfect. And yet, I can tell that I have grown, because I wasn’t upset by the presentation itself. I was more upset because I let someone else’s light and gifts shadow my own. The humorist was funny and engaging. I was more serious and still engaging. There is nothing wrong with being who I am. I almost didn’t show up because I thought someone else had something more to offer. In actuality, she just had something different to offer.
How often have we been afraid to be ourselves because of someone else’s goodness? How often have we played the comparison game and doubted our own abilities? What I know is that I can’t shine my own light with someone else’s gifts. I have to shine the light that was given to me.
What is it that you are good at? What is it that your friends say you do best? That is where your light shines. That is all that is asked of us: Show up, be authentic and shine the light given to you. The world needs you!