Be Brave - Blog Series

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Sneezing at the podium

Sneezing at the podium in front of the Minneapolis City Council was not what I had in mind for this meeting. It was important, and I desperately needed to connect with my audience.

Worse yet was the medicine for my head cold had me feeling loopy. What to do? I decided to walk into the meeting and simply tell the truth.

“I’m really nervous. I’ve never done this before. And this cold medicine has me feeling foggy.”

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I was surprised to see empathy among the council members. The formality of the room made me assume I’d make a fool of myself for being bold. One of the members spoke up.

“You’ll be fine, just fine. We want you to feel welcome here.”

I laughed and relaxed, then said what I would to a friend over coffee.

……“you too, you too. I want you to feel welcome”……

Laughter erupted, everyone was at ease, and now it was MY meeting.

I think we’ve all been in a situation where we don’t know what’s expected of us. Deep down everyone wants to be true to themselves and more than anything they want you to be yourself.

That’s not just when you are speaking in public, it’s for every situation in life.

What is the key to being yourself? Let the real you speak as if you were among friends instead of strangers.

If you think about great leaders, they’re not perfect, but they act without pretense. They act like themselves. That’s what makes them compelling; they focus on helping people instead of doing what they think others want from them.

If my only job is to make sure I’m communicating clearly in order to connect with someone, that quiets my inner critic. If I have helpful information, then I know sharing that information is a gift. That’s what makes a speaker into a great speaker.

Can you think of a time when wanting to impress someone stopped you from being yourself?

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