I am a VERY Confident Speaker

(This is a reblog from my dear friend and fantabulous client, Amy Mason of Stonybrook Design.)

Last night, my coach and good friend, Pamela Wills, ran a workshop called "Master Your Stage Fright". It was held at the Cotuit Center for the Arts. I adore that place and I can't get enough of Pam, so it was a no brainer for me...

It felt like the coldest night EVER and, because of that, I almost did what my body wanted to do: hibernate under a pile of blankets on the sofa, drink a glass of wine, and watch a movie. Instead, I did what my curious mind wanted to do: bundle up and make the voyage to Cotuit.

Wow. Glad I did.

I am a pretty outgoing, friendly kind of girl. I can strike up a conversation with anyone, anything, anywhere. And, I often do. It's what I love- the back and forth connection with people. Even cats and the occasional dog, too. So, of course, you'd think I would also love to be on stage, or behind a podium. 

Uh-uh.

Oddly enough, Those two things do not go hand in hand. My fear of speaking to more than a handful of people at a time has been a lifelong source of difficulty for me. Doesn't matter if it's just voicing my opinion at a board meeting or introducing myself to a cozy group of women at a monthly gathering...  I dread it. 

The workshop last night was interesting on so many levels. The weather kept the group to an intimate three, plus Pam, so it felt absolutely decadent. As Pam led us through a series of interactive exercises and discussions, a natural process evolved. We shared our varied experiences, stories, habits and began dissecting what had led each of us to this point of fear.

We are three confident, successful women, and yet our inner voices (or "chatter", as Pam put it) block us from moving forward in this often necessary part of our lives.

Through these exercises, I may have finally unearthed the origin of my problem. I'm almost positive I can attribute my anxiety to every single oral report I did from first through twelfth grade. Not kidding. Even with art related projects, if I had to take my intricately colored poster and stand my skinny, arm-dangling self in front of classmates to talk about it, my confidence crashed. When I shared this memory aloud, Pam noted that I had most likely absorbed the fears of all the other students waiting for their turn to do the same and that I've been carrying it all these years.

Nowadays, when I have to get up and speak about even the smallest thing, I might as well be giving a report on The Age of Dinosaurs. My grown up self morphs into my awkward young girl self.

Coach Pam taught us a whole new language- to turn it around. Instead of crumbling before I even start, I need to appreciate my pounding heart, love my sweaty palms and realize it's normal.  

Turn "Why am I such a mess?" into "I am a Very Confident Speaker".  Luckily, the workshop seemed to give each us our own "aha" moment.

Published by Amy Mason at www.stonybrookdesign.com/blog, January 24, 2013