Last night I presented at Ignite Minneapolis 2012 and I was scared shitless.
Public speaking has never been my favorite activity and it used to cause me quite a bit of stage fright. I (mostly) got over that after writing a couple of books that resulted in lots of speaking engagements.
Ignite, though, is a challenging kind of speaking gig. It is structured, with a limit of 20 slides, displayed for 15 seconds each, for a talk that lasts five minutes, and not a second longer.
This requires preparation to ensure the remarks for each slide fit within the time allotted, and rehearsal so the timing is right and the delivery sounds reasonably smooth and natural.
I don’t normally do much practicing for speaking engagements, but for my Ignite talk I rehearsed a lot.
(My pal Patrick Rhone, who also presented at Ignite, looked over his remarks just a couple of times the night before and went on to present flawlessly. I hate him. No I don’t, his preso was great.)
Even so, I was frightened out of my mind. All my irrational fear of public speaking came flooding back. As I waited for my turn on the theater stage, I came close a couple of times to bolting from the facility. (I’m not kidding.)
Walking towards the podium , I felt like I was marching to my execution. (It didn’t help that I had a head cold with a scratchy throat.)
And then … something clicked and I was off. I guess all that practicing paid off because I whizzed almost effortlessly through my presentation (about the AeroPress coffee maker). At least, it looks that way on the video replay; I have only a hazy recollection of the actual event.
My talk seemed to be well received, judging from feedback at the scene and on Twitter.
I am glad I did this. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone, do something that at the time feels like a horrible mistake, score a dopamine reward, and gain priceless life experience.
To quote from Jerry Maguire: “That’s how you become great. Hang your balls out there.”