“I don’t want to do a TEDx; I just want to get under my covers and stay there!”
I told my coach around ten days before my TEDx talk.
“The good news is,” he told me, “that today you do not need to give a TEDx. Today, you can stay under the covers.
You can only eat the food that is on your plate today.
As great as you are, it is impossible to eat the food that will be on your plate in 10 days now.”
So I relaxed. And I gave myself a day off to stay under the covers.
Little did I know that ten days later, I would have one of my life’s peak experiences.
Our moods change, thankfully.
When I landed in Athens this past weekend as a speaker for TEDx Patras, I was ready to rock and roll.
There would be 900 people live in the event and many live streaming. I had been working on this for months and would feel disappointed if something went wrong. And I could think of many things that could go wrong during a live event.
Yet, I was much more relaxed during my TEDx experience than in the weeks leading up to it. Here are three reasons why:
1. Overwhelm doesn’t come from the weight of the balls but their quantity.
When I traveled to Patras for my TEDx, all I had to do was deliver my talk.
Back in London, my mind was cluttered with many projects and family obligations.
Thankfully my husband held the fort at home while my colleagues held the fort at work. I could focus on what I was there to do.
The antidote to stress is reducing multitasking as much as possible. Focus on what’s on your plate today.
Keeping in the air one heavy ball is a lot easier than keeping in the air many lighter balls.
2. We are more afraid of the judgment of the people we know.
I noticed that I was more stressed when I rehearsed my talk in front of my brother and my best friends than when I was about to go out in front of 900 people.
Could it be that we are more afraid of the judgment of the people we know than those we don’t know?
My brother and my friends often have different views than mine and are not afraid to give me tough love.
When they told me they liked my presentation, a considerable part of the stress was gone. On the day, I did not have to think about whether they would approve of my talk. I already knew they did.
The TED speaker guide advises rehearsing the presentation with people who scare you. Often the people whose opinions you are scared of the most are the ones closest to you.
3. Don’t do it alone
Three different coaches supported me during the preparation of the talk. My business coach, a core messaging consultant and the TEDx Patras speaker coach.
The TEDx volunteers pampered me.
My mother was there to mother me, from ironing my clothes to bringing me food.
Two friends and my brother came to Patras to be there for me. The rest of my family was live-streaming.
The day before, inspirational messages from my friends around the world started arriving.
“Imagine it is your last day on earth, and your talk is a little voice message to the world,” one of them said.
My husband sent me the “Raise a little hell” song by Trooper. The same song he sent me before my interview with Google in 2009. I had to hold back the tears so as not to ruin my stage makeup when I received the message.
Remember those three tips when you have a big moment coming up where you need to perform and there is a lot at stake:
a) Reduce the multitasking
b) Rehearse in front of the people whose judgment you are afraid of and
c) Get support.
Which one of the three resonated?