This post was originally republished on the Ignite Asheville website. I spoke at Ignite on February 19, and the experience was amazing, while also being terrifying! Never have I felt the Resistance so strongly, which of course also meant this was really important.
Last month, I was fortunate to be able to give a presentation at Ignite Asheville. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was blown away with the turnout and support by the local community. The standing room only event drew about 400 people to Highland Brewing, and cemented (in my mind) the commitment of Asheville to growing a thriving entrepreneurial community.
But for me, it was a new experience. I have spoken to groups before, in college presentations, in-home camp pitches, and at Rockmont itself. Speaking to a group is not the big deal to me, even to hundreds of people. I don’t say that to brag, but to underscore that I was freaking terrified before walking on the stage.
Every other time I had spoken to a group before, there was an element of comfort to the setting. They were people I knew, I had worked with, understood, and I had ample time to get my message across. Not so with Ignite!
I had none of these comforts. I had nagging fears. I had voices in my head. I had time limits.
The voice raged inside “You have no business speaking to these people!”
Ironically, this is what I was talking about. The Resistance inside all of us that says we’re not good enough, smart enough, or prepared enough. But the Resistance had unmasked itself. By clamoring with all its might that I was unworthy of this honor, I knew how important my message was. By ramping up my terror, my resolve was strengthened.
Ah yes, and the time limits. I tend to ramble while speaking, and this was my primary source of anxiety. Ignite talks are strictly structured to provide the speaker with 20 slides, auto-advancing every 15 seconds. In every single rehearsal I performed (roughly 50), I missed my timing. I didn’t finish a single one feeling good. Brevity and clarity needed to be my closest allies, and they were not cooperating.
But with practice and failure comes comfort, albeit in small doses. I practiced the slides so much, even in failure, that when the lights went on, I nailed it. I had to bite my tongue to keep from over-talking, and keep the message concise.
The rest of the night was a blast, as the other presenters gave their impassioned talks on a variety of topics. I had several people come up and tell me they enjoyed my talk, which was fun. The most inspirational conversations were with people who said they felt like I was describing an experience they were having in their own lives, and how it helped them!
When we are courageous enough to tell the story we are experiencing in our own lives, it touches the lives of other people. Though we are individual people, each with a unique twist to our story, we live through many of the same patterns. As you reflect on the story of your own life, and the pleasure and pain you were made to share, don’t fall to the fear that you’ll be mocked, but step in to the courage of the life you have been placed here to live.
Here are few pieces of advice I was given before going on stage, I think you’ll like them also:
You have a story worth telling
Believe in your story
Don’t allow fear to over-rule your message
Go forth and be fearless. You were born to shine.
Watch the full talk!
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