I’m pretty open about being an introverted person. I don’t however usually share just how much people in more than groups of two scare the ever lovin hell out of me. I have been known to come close to running out of gas because I’ll pass gas stations that are too crowded to me even to pay at the pump.
So, it’s pretty bizarre that I would agree to be a speaker. There are studies that show fear of public speaking ranks up there with the fear of death for the majority of the population. When I first started my company I decided I would never speak at conferences. So when Dave Snyder sent me an email telling asking me I was speaking at Scary SEO I hid under my desk for an hour.
I thought about it for a long time and decided I had months to prepare or change my mind. I knew Scary SEO would be a smaller conference and I wanted to see if I could speak in front of group. I really did think deep down I would probably back out of it when the time came. Months flew by and I have been busier than I ever have in my entire life. I have also been very sick for the last few weeks. Next thing I know it’s the week of Scary SEO, I had two choices. I could fake my own death or just go for it.
I ended up not being able to fly in until the middle of the first day of Scary SEO. Then the cab driver got lost and I had issues with checking in (big thanks to Samantha Snyder for helping with that like an angel from heaven above). I didn’t get to the actual conference until 20 minutes before the session I was on the panel started. This ended up being a blessing not giving me time to plot an escape out the door.
When it was my turn to speak, the walk up to the podium seemed like a life time journey. I was so busy celebrating in my head that I didn’t trip and fall down I almost forgot to start speaking. As I began and started talking about the first slide of my presentation I realized I was trembling like a tiny Chihuahua at the groomers. To my horror even my voice started to become shaky. I tried to remember to look up and out to the audience I was addressing. I did see some heads nodding in agreement with what I was saying, although I had no idea what I was saying. I truly have no idea what I said while I was up there other than “hi” and “thank you”. I have been told I did at least speak English. I did enjoy the Q&A part of the session. I love back and forth conversations about paid search.
I don’t know if I will ever speak at another conference but to me this was success. It doesn’t matter if I sucked and I bolted out of the room like a jack rabbit instead of working the room when my session was done. I did not back out, hide in the hotel room, throw up or faint in front of everyone. I conquered one of the biggest fears of my life. I want to thank Dave for having me as a speaker and everyone that even pretended to listen to me.