By Laura Wallace | April 27, 2017
Speaking was never something that was on my radar. In fact, the thought of speaking used to be something that made my knees and my voice shake. I can remember the first time I had to give a professional talk. I was at a networking group called BNI, and every week we had to stand in front of 12-15 professionals and talk about our business. The first time I stood up I thought I was going to pass out. My heart raced, I forgot who I was and it felt like the room was 100 degrees. I was scared shitless.
Fast forward nearly ten years and the experience is a little different. Over the past decade, I’ve been forced to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. My role at Worx requires me to build meaningful relationships. So how do you go from scared to confident? Just like with anything else… practice. The more I spoke, the more I found my groove. The more I found my groove, the more people responded. And the more people responded, the more I wanted to do it. Now I love speaking. In fact, I want to do it on a regular basis! (Inside goal… I’d love to be a TED talk speaker one day!)
I recently had the opportunity to take a road trip to Rhode Island to speak at Johnson & Wales University in Providence. Angelica from 80 Content and I hopped in a car, drove to RI, I spoke and we drove home all in 36 hours! It was a whirlwind but what an incredible experience! I learned a few things along the way that has given me fuel to continue my speaking path:
• You never know where an opportunity might pop up – I met Angelica through the AAF-GF. Prior to our positions on the board, we had never crossed paths. Through regular meetings, we got to know one another well and found out we had a lot in common. She’s such an amazing person that she pitched this road trip idea to me and made it happen. You never know when someone new in your life is going to lead you on your path. Be open-minded and treat everyone with kindness.
• You can overcome fear with practice – When I stood in front of these hungry college students, I was nervous, but not scared. Ten years ago I would have collapsed. The best way to overcome a fear is to lean into it. Fall down. Mess up. Whatever you do, just do it. Each time you face your own fear you build a muscle. With time, that muscle grows stronger and it has less of an impact on you. In fact, you may find it quite exciting! Keep at it and it will become a normal activity for you.
• People like when you’re real – One of the challenges I had when I first started speaking was acting like other professional speakers. While they spoke well, they didn’t speak like me and I didn’t speak like them. When you find yourself struggling with something, ask yourself, “Am I doing this like me or like someone else?” When I ditched the maroon suit and used my personality as a method versus hiding it, I became much more confident in my abilities. And go figure, people respond to authenticity! You’ll gain respect and keep interest.
• The world is big – As we drove up the East Coast, I was reminded just how big this world is. Often times we get tunnel vision, thinking only about what is within arm’s reach, when in reality we have a tremendous amount of opportunity for thousands of miles in any direction. Believe that you can achieve great things. Look beyond what’s right in front of you and explore what’s beyond the comfort zone. Great things are attracted to those who believe they are possible.
Who knows what’s next on this speaking journey I’m on! What I do know is that I love inspiring people, I love exposing the Worx brand to new people and I love taking risks. If it has to do with Branding, Entrepreneurship or Culture, I’m in.
See you on the TED stage one day 🙂