Picture it…you’ve got one hour during lunch to brainstorm a 3 minute talk to be delivered in front of a room full of strangers. 3 minutes to say the thing you think is most important for people to know.
That’s what happened a few weekends ago when I was out in San Fransisco for a course in public speaking.
While everyone else spent their hour at lunch, socializing with each other…I walked and walked and walked for the entire break. Obsessing over what I wanted to say, how I would say it and how I would make my 3 minutes better than everyone else’s. Not because I wanted anyone else to do poorly, but because I clearly have to work 100 times harder than everyone else to get people to think I did a decent job. I mean…obvs.
And so I walked some more, I’d stop and edit ideas in my notebook. I practiced my opening line out loud as I sat in a park surrounded by homeless men.
Then I walked back to class, pacing the hallways…running up and down the stairs because my adrenaline was going so crazy I had to keep moving.
I was second to last in our group to present. I could barely focus on listening to each women as she got up and took her turn sharing her “most important thing you want people to know” story. I was completely fixated on not screwing up, on pacing my intro just right so the epic joke I was going to tell would land perfectly.
And then finally, it was my turn.
My opening was strong. But then…someone started sneezing. I went completely blank on everything else I was going to say. So then I had the next 90 seconds or so to BS my way back to my point, my most.important.thing. Which I’d also totally forgotten at this point.
So I rambled on about something else, the timer went off letting me know my time was up and then I feebly winded down into a half-assed ending.
Everyone said I’d done a good job, but they had no idea how GREAT the thing I was planning was supposed to be, so they didn’t know how massively I just bombed.
I was mortified.
I’d flown across the country, left my dog with a stranger and booked myself into a nice hotel (all things I rarely ever do) for this BIG moment. The moment I was gonna nail my talk, blow everyone’s minds and be anointed the next great speaker – all in one shinning moment.
So then I had about 20 minutes while everyone was cheerfully celebrating how great they’d just done before we had to start all over again. We could either do the same topic again or choose a new idea to speak on for 3 minutes.
At first I wallowed in my misery. I hoped someone would come over and try to cheer me up. I almost cried and seriously thought about making excuses to leave (I mean..that gluten really was hurting my stomach from earlier).
But then I had this dawning moment of realizing that I had a choice.
I could do what I’ve always done when things don’t go perfectly. I could feel reaffirmed that nothing I ever do is good enough and just settle for being the girl who forgot her speech.
Or, I could shake it off and do what I came to do: share a really valuable message with the world.
A message that I felt even more conviction around over the course of the weekend because so many women in the room were the exact type of people I’ve been wanting to speak to.
So here’s what happened next:
I got up and spoke for my 3 minutes without any idea of what the heck I’d say. I didn’t practice my killer intro or perfect phrasing.
I was just super honest and talked about what had just happened a few minutes earlier. About how hard I try to be perfect. And how much I need everyone to validate me before I can be happy. And how much I want to let go of that pattern.
And I did this other wild thing…
I trusted that I would know what to do.
Author Marianne Williamson talks a lot about what amazing things can happen when we get our ego out of the way and just trust love to move through us.
That’s so woo and new agey, I know.
I still struggle with the concept that anything other than my own determination and fight will get me what I want.
But as Jessica, one of the trainers at my speaking class said, I “trusted the free fall” .
And it was legit AMAZING, if I do say so myself! haha
So that’s the practice for now – letting go of control (even just a little bit) and seeing what tiny miracles occur.
What have you been trying to control?
Where have you been holding on for dear life because that seems like the only way to make things happen?
And where can you start trusting the free fall?
I’d love to hear your answer in the comments below.
P.S. If you have a message to share – my speaking coach KC Baker has a free video training series right now where she’ll walk you through some of her signature tools and techniques to concur your fear of getting on stage and unleash the power of your voice. Watch here!
P.P.S. the link to that video is an affiliate link.