Facing the Fear

Due to Covid and then having my focus directed on growing my new businesses, from 2020 to the end of 2023, I hadn’t participated in any speaking events. At the end of last year, a former client invited me to speak at their upcoming event. Despite not having fears of public speaking, the three-year hiatus left me with some nerves. Typically, I rely on a trusty slide deck, but this venue wasn’t equipped for me to have a screen.

Although not my finest moment in motivational speaking, I managed to navigate through it. Subsequently, I found myself speaking at other events without screen provisions. By the third occasion, I hit my stride, feeling at ease. Consequently, when asked to headline an event for 120 people a few months ago, I was asked if I needed a screen and, feeling extra confident, I declined.

On the event day, I hastily messaged the organisers to determine the duration of my slot, which turned out to be 50 minutes followed by Q&A. Riffing for nearly an hour with a perimenopausal brain was not the ideal foundation for an inspirational talk. So, I quickly created a slide deck but unfortunately getting a screen at the last minute was not possible.

Knowing I would have to refer to the slides on my iPad and having to pause to look down at them, with the audience just sitting there looking at me, I feared it would look like I didn’t know what I was talking about. As the room started filling up, I started to panic a little that this wasn’t going to be up there as one of my greatest moments. So, here’s what I did:

Putting Your Fear in The Spotlight

I put my fear in the spotlight. I started my talk by telling everyone the above anecdote and how I would be looking at my notes to make sure I covered all I wanted to say. It allowed the audience to feel what I was feeling and for me not to worry about what they were thinking because I had controlled the narrative.

It was probably one of the best talks I have delivered in my career to date.

When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you open up to those around you and to your own personal growth.

This is one small example of how we can grow if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to put our insecurities on a pedestal.

Like many of you reading, I am someone who actively avoids networking, so it might surprise you to read that myself and two co-founders, Julie Turnbull and Claire Pickersgill, have launched a networking event called the Ladies Collective. Let me state two things: one, it’s the opposite of traditional networking, and two, there is a connection to the above…

Networking can feel icky because everyone’s sole purpose is to sell themselves; it’s ego-driven and nothing feels genuine.

The Ladies Collective is different because it’s not about selling; it’s about support. What we actively encourage is that you come together to empower each other, and to do that, you need vulnerability – being vulnerable to share if you’re struggling and where you might need support.

You can’t grow if you can’t admit where you need support

Imagine if everyone adopted this approach in your business right now, leaving egos and judgments at the door, and being open and honest about what they need or what they are worried about. I invite you to get vulnerable; now it doesn’t need to be on a stage; you can do this just with yourself. Start by admitting to yourself where you are struggling and think about what support you need to be able to grow, then take one action over that this month.

If you want to overcome your fears to unlock your growth book in a free consultation 

If you want to listen to a related podcast episode click here