I went to be in the audience of my first Pecha Kucha last year; and walked away thinking – “that’s so cool” – I wish I could do it.
And then laughed. There is NO way that would happen.
What a difference, 6 months can make.
I laughed because, not only am I an introvert, I have social anxiety. For me this means that even in a group setting – and even if I know everyone, I succumb to the physiological symptoms of anxiety, which usually stops me from putting my hand up and usually means that whatever I wanted to say, comes out as something else. It’s always been this way. Always the increased heart-rate and often the feeling of everything closing around me with the thudding pressure in my head and inability to stop shaking – or worse can’t move. The extent of it varies with the situation – but it’s always there.
That’s why the thought of voluntarily putting myself in front of a crowd for 6 minutes and 40 seconds and talking was incomprehensible.
I have opinions, views and stories to share. I have so much to say and while written communication is how I’ve always done it – I feel that it was limiting me. Confront the beast.
So, one night after a few wines I put my name forward to speak at the next Pecha Kucha… than wondered WTF had I gotten myself into when I found myself on the list for the night. I had about a month to prepare. I left organising it until the weekend before, but had spent a lot of time thinking about what I would even talk about. How I was going to do this and again… WTF had I gotten myself into.
I went through waves of anxiety – especially when the introduction was put up on the facebook page. I went through moments of positive self talk… I can do this… What’s the worst that could happen? (Well I tried not to think about that too much).
After organising my slides, writing a script and practicing a few times – I found myself in an un-naturally calm and positive frame of mind (totally not like me). I was ready for this. Here are the things I think helped the most to get me up on the stage.
- Being prepared. Know what you are talking about. I wasn’t sure how I would handle the pressure and was kind to myself by having full notes.
- Visualise yourself doing it successfully. (For me successfully didn’t mean perfect, it meant getting what I wanted to say out… and not falling over – wear flat shoes). Imagine yourself being the best you can be.
- Self talk. You CAN do this. People do this ALL the time. You are prepared.
- Accept the anxiety. I absolutely accepted and was prepared to be anxious. In the weeks leading up to it when I was feeling nervous – I would breathe and do positive self talk. This included about minutes before hand when I was starting to get uncomfortable in the wait… BREATHE
- Ask to go first. Anxiety happens because of anticipation.
I did it. I was comfortable – Pecha Kucha is absolutely the best format and crowd to be speaking for the first time in front of. I even enjoyed myself on stage – which is totally strange for me to admit even to myself. Something that I thought I couldn’t do… I totally did.
I’ll be publishing the presentation this weekend – stay tuned.