Last week, I had the opportunity to share my personal story with 250 people at a Speaker Slam event here in Toronto. The theme was Catalyst and it was about a defining moment that changed the trajectory of my life.
Although I’ve done lots of public speaking, I hadn’t share this vulnerable side of me in a while, so felt out of practise. And this was a speaking COMPETITION, with judges and all. Yikes. I wasn’t in it, but I really wanted to do my best.
I had some special people in the audience, including my 2 sons who’d never heard this part of my story that directly relates to them. My anxiety was at an all-time high. I had rehearsed. I had tons of support. I was ready.
Well, I got on stage and started delivering my talk. Just a few minutes in, my mouth went completely dry. I could barely get the words out. I had never experienced anything like this before — and it was brutal. Here I was trying to connect and inspire my audience, and all I could think of was my parched mouth. Arghhh.
Needless to say, I was disappointed with my delivery.
I got off stage and felt a sense of embarrassment and even a touch of shame. And even as friends and even strangers came up to let me know how my talk inspired them, I just couldn’t let go of how I felt. I wanted to run off and hide.
Oh I so badly wanted a chance to do it over again.
But then a couple of days later, it hit me. I may not have aced my performance or come even close to winning, but I know that my message had an impact on those in the audience who needed to hear it — even with my dry mouth. And most importantly, I had the courage to share my story with others.
So often we hold back from speaking up, sharing our thoughts, opinions, stories and AHA moments for fear of being judged. What if we’re not powerful, impactful, amazing and good enough? What if no one cares? What if we’re perceived as weak or not good enough?
I took a chance. I was judged (probably most harshly by myself). I didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped.
And so what?
Here’s what I know for sure: Our message matters. Mine and yours and everyone else’s. It does not need to be perfect for it to have an impact. That applies to our personal stories as well as our business message.
So rather than recoiling and allowing the embarrassment to take over, I’ve decided to turn up the volume instead. It won’t always be easy, perfect or impactful, but I am committed to not allowing that annoying little voice in my head to keep me from speaking up.
It’s time for me to show up, connect and shine!!!
Are you in with me?