I wasn’t ready. I was nervous. I had practiced, rehearsed, memorized my presentation for weeks. For an entire month, all I thought about, cared about, and cried about was this huge presentation. This was my chance. This was my one golden opportunity to show them what I could really do. To prove that I was more than the peon they thought I was. With this presentation, I was going to show them.
I was going to face the people who didn’t think I could do it. I was going to look right at them, give my talk, and they could look back at me in awe. I was going to prove to them, and to myself, once and for all, that I could do it. That I deserved more than what they currently thought of me.
But as the days grew closer to THE DAY, I grew more and more scared. I could feel the anxiety rising. I could actually hear my heartbeat. I started not being able to sleep. I found myself overwhelmed with thoughts about it not going well. I thought I would get up there and not remember what I was going to say.
Doubts crept in. The worst case scenarios played out in my mind. What if they start laughing at me? What if they roll their eyes? What if I forget completely what I was going to say? What if my voice sounds like it is shaking? What if my nerves take over and I throw up on stage? Worse, what if they give me a look of pity as if to say…”aww…that poor girl thought she had what it takes.”
So I thought through my options:
· Option One: tell the event staff that I was going to have to cancel
· Option Two: tell them I am sick the day of the presentation
· Option Three: beg the event staff to re-schedule me to a later date
· Option Four: suck it up and try
Then I googled “prepare for a big presentation” and found the following tactics:
· Tactic One: visualize yourself giving the speech and it going well
· Tactic Two: act like superwoman with a power pose
· Tactic Three: deep breathing exercises: in for 3 counts, hold for 3 counts, out for 3 counts
· Tactic Four: rehearse out loud
I did every tactic. Tactic One to Tactic Four. Then I repeated them. But nothing worked. My heart was still beating out of my chest non-stop. My mouth was still dry. I still couldn’t take a deep breath. My insomnia continued.
But I kept going through the motions, I went through all of the tactics. Again and again. I tried to keep myself calm. I kept running through my talk out loud so I could hear myself. I recorded what I looked like while I practiced. I noticed things that could make it better. I adjusted, I tried different inflection points with my voice, different ways of moving across the stage, different hand gestures.
I had gone over this presentation so many times that I literally felt sick to my stomach when I started from the beginning of it. Again.
Then the big day came. After a night of little to no sleep, I woke up at my usual wake up time. I did my usual morning routine. I took a longer time getting ready, trying to hide the huge circles under my eyes.
As the hour of the presentation came suddenly closer, my nerves were so bad I was visibly shaking. My breathing was short, my mouth dry, my heart racing.
Then a voice in my head came through loud and clear. Get yourself under control Erin! This isn’t life or death! You did everything you could do. You are ready! You got this!
And so I had. As I walked up onto that stage, I was calm. I was ready. I could do this. Yes it was scary. Yes I was nervous. Yes there was a risk of it not going well.
But in that moment I realized that there was a greater risk. The greater risk would have been not trying. The greater risk would have been dodging the opportunity and calling in sick. The greater risk would have been giving up.
The greatest risk in life is not taking any risk.
Command Joy by Taking a Risk. What are you currently afraid of or avoiding in life because you are scared? What steps can you take towards it? Tell me in the comments below!