The day I popped my public speaking cherry
Friday afternoon saw me pop my public speaking cherry. I had been asked to speak at BritMums Live, the parenting blogging conference, as part of a discussion panel, which included such literary luminaries as Zoe Williams (Guardian journalist,) Liz Fraser (TV Parenting expert and author,) and Jennie Bristow, (author/blogger/columnist.)
Our topic was, ‘The Clever Blogger’s Way to Talk about Parenting.’ I was the only blogger on the panel and have a lot of respect for the other panel members and knew it would be a lively debate.
An hour beforehand, however, I was a bit of a pathetic mess. You’d have found me sat hidden in a quiet room by myself, maniacally listening to Game Over, rocking back and forth, slightly petrified at the prospect of speaking in front of a room full of people, let alone being sat next to women I admire greatly.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a confident woman (most of the time,) but when it comes to trying new things that are completely out of my comfort zone … I get nervous. Perfectly normal. Probably.
I knew I’d be like this so for once, I just embraced the fear. I listened to that music until my ears bled. I zoned out. I told myself that it would be ok. Then I told myself it would be ok over and over again. I blasted out my internal dialogue that was telling me I’d mess it up until I couldn’t hear it anymore.
At the risk of sounding like a bit of a weirdo, that’s the thing with those voices in your head. The ones that tell you you can’t do something. They’re really loud! The trick is to drown them out. That might be by way of a positive reinforcement mantra or by some dirty Grime. Either/or.
I was now calm enough to walk into the room, meet the panel, take my seat and introduce myself. As the following introduction shows, I hadn’t rehearsed that much:
“Hello everyone. I’m Kate Sutton and I blog at WitWitWoo. Now, I don’t profess to be an expert at anything really – I’m just the token ‘normal’ person here.”
And with that, the ice was broken.
The feedback I got after the talk was really positive. The attendees were actually really interested in hearing what I had to say (me! ha!) – from one fellow blogger to another. The other panel members had a different take to blogging than me, coming from more of an author/journalistic background, and a lot of the discussion revolved around ‘the bigger picture’ that parents are facing these days. Speaking as someone who’s in the midst of blogging and the blogging community, I felt that I could empathise with the challenges that we, as bloggers face. Whether that be the issue of ‘to review or not to review,’ how much sharing is ‘too’ much or what makes a blog successful.
The ultimate message that I felt came from the session was that to be a ‘successful’ blogger, it is imperative that you are honest. Whatever subject you choose to talk about, it will soon become clear whether someone’s voice is ‘authentic’ or not and it is this that makes readers coming back time and time again. That ‘believability’ factor. Readers want to know that you can relate to them.
I was grateful for the many friendly faces in the crowd, (you know who you are!) and really pleased to see such a great turnout. I’m totally taking the credit for that and ignoring the fact that most of them had probably come to see Zoe Williams!
So now I’m not a public speaking virgin anymore, what next?
Would I do it again?
You try and stop me.