How do you prepare for a speech that scares you?

I recently gave a speech that really scared me, because of how important the audience was, how much I wanted them to like me, and how badly I wanted the speech to go well. It was one of the two biggest speeches I’ve been asked to give so far.

The good news is that I didn’t freeze up and die of embarrassment. In fact, it went remarkably well. So in addition to celebrating the fact that I didn’t die, and it didn’t suck, I want to share a bit of what I learned.

Now, I’m not a natural born speaker. I’m a nerd who studied computers because they felt safer than people. And the last time I gave this big a speech, back in Silicon Valley, my laptop stopped working – on stage – and I panicked. It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

So going in, my fears had reasons to be afraid.

This was a big Yes Yes Hell No for me. But there were two key things that had shifted. One. I’d learned how to improve my questions. And two. I’d married Nicole.

When I was preparing for the Silicon Valley speech that went so badly, the core question I asked was “what’s my worth?” It was all about me, my ideas, my background, my company, my vision, my my my my my…

With this speech, the core question I asked was “how can I provide value?”

To the best of my ability, I made it all about my audience instead of me. Who are they? What do they care about? What are their ideas? What would help them? What would inspire them?

Now, that might sound simple, except for that sneaky caveat. “To the best of my ability…”

I still have a lot of fears and insecurities. I have lots of places inside me that are regularly trying to Prove Worth instead of Provide Value. And those pieces are tricky! “Oh, but they need me to talk about my worth, brag about my accomplishments, and show them how smart I am! It would serve them!”

Thankfully, I’m married to Nicole. And one of her many gifts is that she always knows when I’m bullshitting myself. I don’t always ask – or listen. But she always knows. And after enough years on this path, I had a pretty clear idea of just how much Proving Worth energy was going to come up for me around this speech, and I honored that as an opportunity for my own healing and growth.

So I got clear on my intentions: provide as much value as I can, and show up as cleanly as possible.

And then I spent 90 days preparing for a 90 minute speech.

For three months, I kept asking three questions, and kept getting Nicole’s support in doing so.
1. What would provide the most value to this group?
2. Where in this speech am I trying to Prove Worth?
3. How can I embrace, accept and heal that piece of me?

Yes, I prepared and practiced the content. But much more importantly, I allowed myself to be prepared. Because ultimately, this work is about willingness not worthiness.

And I got support in the process, from Nicole, as well as from some other amazing coaches and healers. Thank you my love! And thank you Paul, Ella, Paula and Bevan.

So how did it go? Here’s the first piece. Check it out. I can share what the audience’s experience was – but I’m more interested in your experience, and how it connects with you.

So what do you think? How did this resonate? Was it valuable? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please post them below.

Love and light,
Brian