February for me has been a big deal because I got to speak at a very large event that I set an intention to do so, last year.
What is WordCamp?
It was WordCamp Birmingham. If you don’t know what WordCamp is, in simple terms it derives from WordPress and they are weekends full of workshop dedicated to developers, coders, business owners, bloggers and anyone who uses WordPress. They’re amazing and I’ve learnt so much from going to them – so far, I’ve been to Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham and I planned to go the London one but I’m unable to, although I’m speaking at the Leeds Northern Bloggers group in March which is also WordPress related.
I’m always raving on about them not just because I’m a geek but they are so helpful and the community is just wonderful.
What was I doing at WordCamp?
So back to the Birmingham one – yes, I was giving a lightening talk, where you’ve ten minutes to share something of use and interest. I chose to talk about customer profiling and how it can be used to create targeted content.
I literally hid at the back as the speakers went up one by one. I felt completely out my comfort zone public speaking to around 150+ people. The largest group I’ve ever done is 25…
I didn’t get off to the best of starts because someone at the back shouted that they couldn’t hear me (a problem that I’d encountered with a few other people talking that weekend). And I know it sounds weird but I’ve never used a microphone before so that was a bit intimidating. Anyway after the acoustic issues, I began my speech – I couldn’t stop shaking and when I get nervous I start to twitch and my voice dips in and out. I laugh about it after but during, it’s like the worse thing EVER! (A tad dramatic I know…)
I managed to spit out everything that I had planned to stay apart from one point, which I had to have a little look on my iPhone (thank god for their notes!) I don’t think I talked too fast, which is something I’m really good at – I’m like Road Runner when it comes to public speaking.
I think the most challenging thing for me was looking at people – especially when you can see non amused, bored looking, Twitter updating faces, it kind of puts you off. But then I’ve to remind myself that people are concentrating and I have no right to interpret their facial expressions. I caught my own the other day on video whilst at a workshop and I look like I’ve just been given the worst news ever…
The point is I was being hard on myself and even more so when I sat down, I slumped and wanted the whole floor to swallow me up, I even considered crying…
(Excuse the grubby mug…)
So why do I do it? I ask myself the same question and I get the same answer every time. It gives me a buzz and I’ve got stuff going on in my brain that I want to tell people about. I’ve been doing my job for so long that I want to educate people about it.
The highlight of my talk was having a flurry of people come up to me throughout the weekend and ask me questions or telling me that it made them think. And the guy who shouted that he couldn’t hear me (which instantly put me off) apparently sung my praises in a workshop that he later gave.
So, I wouldn’t say I’ve completely kicked my public speaking phobia, I’d say I’m more public speaking sensitive and I’m doing my best to get good at it – or at least to the stage where I smile afterwards.
I’m smiling now though….
Have you done anything that scares you this month?