I no longer get nervous in any physical sense before speeches. I sleep fine. I know how most audiences will react to things. Still, I felt a bit of trepidation before my talk at SXSW on What Successful People Do Before Breakfast. First, it was new material. Second, I was worried that no one would show up. SXSW is huge, and there is a ton of stuff going on at any given time. Also, lots of people stay out partying late (as I could hear outside my hotel room each night) so I was not sure a 9:30 A.M. time slot would be a big draw. And I was in the Marriott, not the main conference center.
And so, in my self-talk before the speech, I found myself saying “in a few hours this will be over.” If it was an empty room, or it did not go well, at some point in the near future I would be on the other side of it, and could continue with my life.
This is sometimes a useful mindset, for instance while sitting in the ER with an unhappy toddler. But I realized I was falling into the trap of enduring rather than enjoying when there was no reason to. I love speaking. I had been given a rather large room. A few people had told me they would be there, and in my random conversations with others in line throughout the conference some had told me they had “starred” my session. It all had the makings of something that could be rather cool.
So I switched the self-talk. I wanted to enjoy, not endure. I started saying to myself “This is going to be awesome.”
And it was. The big salon at the Marriott was almost full. People were engaged in the talk (no streaming to the exits!) I had a great time up on stage and the conference book store sold out of my book. They said they would order twice as many copies the next time.
I am consciously trying to switch this self-talk in other circumstances too. We are traveling over spring break and there are so many reasons to dread traveling with small kids. But my 8-year-old is so excited he is counting the days. It is perhaps the best thing I can do for him to echo the sentiment. This is going to be awesome. Here is hoping it will be.
In other news: My grandmother, who I wrote about going to visit in October, passed away earlier this week. She was 100 years old, and lived a good long life. She died at home, with family around. I am really glad I made the trip to see her when that was still a possibility.