I have been fortunate enough to have been a “speaker” for around 2 years. (Officially as part of a part time working pattern in school.) Nevertheless it has actually been more like 5 years in total. Today and only on a very small handful of times previously, I got genuinely nervous!
Numbers don’t phase me, there can be 1 person or 1000 people in the audience, I don’t mind that. But what was different about today. Well firstly, I was presenting to my peers. Should that make a difference? Does it make a difference? Yes! When I say peers I mean, it was people who do the same role as me. Day in day out. Same challenges. Same obstacles. Same issues. I was worried if they would ‘agree’ or think if any of my ideas/thoughts were of any ‘use.’
That was the initial reason to be nervous. The main reason was because before I delivered my keynote @jimroberson1 was delivering his. He was in the room. He was the room. He sang along to his music. Greeting, smiling and oozing with confidence and certainty, with a real warmth about him. But why the nerves for me? What has he got to do with me, with what I am going to present…
Well, I started to compare myself.
Am I that confident?
Am I that welcoming?
Am I that engaging?
Then I sat and listened to him begin his talk, I then observed him hook the room in immediately. He engaged with the room, everybody in the room. He talked through his experiences. I started to think, oh dear, why would these people want to listen to me after that!?
I mean I should be used to be being nervous, I have had to follow @hywelroberts & @jazampawfarr before. I have been on workshop schedules the same time as @SueCowley and @VicGoddard. I have hosted events where people would have to pay to come and see me, and me only. I mean, I understand worry, apprehension, that uncomfortable feeling of where you think, will anybody choose my workshop in a group of 15 others.
I have also been nervous before when people that I respect, value their opinion so much have chosen to listen to me. When people who I see at the ‘top of their game’ have sat down to watch me! That to me is fun! I also enjoy interviews, I like the pressure element, I like thinking on my feet. On those occasions I turned the nervous energy into enthusiasm.
So where does self doubt come from?
I have never got complacent or arrogant enough to believe that number of followers means anything. Also probably like many humans no matter how kind people are to you you tend to remember the negative comments most. I have done a TEDx talk, it has had 30,000+ views, but I tend to focus on the fact that there are some that don’t like it.
Today was different, it wasn’t worry about those things mentioned; it wasn’t concerns about ‘numbers’ or whether anybody wanted to listen to me. I was a keynote, my audience were there. It was different. I found today to be an awakening for me! Although I was shocked at being nervous, that made me more nervous, why am I feeling nervous. The feeling of the adrenaline, the butterfly’s in my stomach, I was also surprised at how I wanted to react to nervousness.
I thought and thought, what would I say to my students in this situation.
So I gave myself a subliminal pep talk. I told myself;
- Good isn’t always shown or received in the same format.
- You are good enough Amjad.
- What did it look like the last time you were good. Do that again.
- Do what you know to do. Do it the way you know it has worked. And only change what hasn’t worked.
This is in effect called ‘mental imagery.’ Or ‘positive self verbalisation/visualisation’. You are stimulating neurons in your heads to make you believe your thoughts. It worked.
I told myself that you are worth listening to.
You are prepared
You are rehearsed
You have done this before
However the nerves kick back in when you think, well the audience didn’t invite you to speak to them. The organisers did. So maybe they don’t want to hear you… but then I realised.
That nerves are usually about your worries about factors that you can’t control. And factors you can control, control them.
Factors you can control are, your presence, your message, your delivery, your smile. Factors you can control are your slides, your way of describing, explaining and simplifying, your ability to communicate.
Nerves are a terrible friend of anxiety which manipulates itself to make you worry about things that are out of your control.
I wrote this short blog to share that no matter how ‘confident’ or how ‘carefree’ one may feel or look, they do not simply have nerves of steel. They might just have learnt how to control the elements they can control and focus on them rather than the elements they can’t.
Also, its vital to remember that a little bit of nerves and worry are good for you. It can help you become more alert, more aware and improve your performance.
Another blog to worry about Imposter Syndrome?
Why do you get invited to speak?
— Mark (@bocks1) June 14, 2019