Good ideas are all around us. We miss most of them, and a few stick. 2012 is transformational for me because I spotted an idea in 2011 and I acted on it. The idea was a reminder, a reminder of the importance of practice. It came from Laurie Ruettimann (pictured above) in a blog post she wrote called Public Speaking Tips. You can read the whole piece here, and the part that really struck home for me was:
I practice like crazy. Other speakers advise me not to over-prepare and I tell them, “Mind your own business.” Malcolm Gladwell tells us that we need 10,000 of practice before we become rockstars. Maybe you don’t have to practice because you’re awesome. That’s great. Good for you. But we don’t let our children get behind the wheel of a car without extensive practice. Why would I stand before a group of busy, smart, talented people without extensive preparation? My audience deserves a strongly executed performance. I want to deliver. You should, too.
Laurie’s post was written on September 21st 2011 and just a couple of weeks beforehand I had accepted an invitation to speak at the CIPD Social Media in HR conference in December 2011. I musta read Laurie’s post about a hundred times, over and over and over. And then I applied that same level of interest and practice to the talk I was going to give. I built the talk, I destroyed the talk, I rebuilt it. I bashed it crashed it, mashed it, bashed it. Practice, practice, practice. Hell I even practiced leaving a couple of pieces to free flow, because you never know how your audience is going to react and if you’ve tied down the whole thing then you’ve kinda got nowhere to go.
The day came. I was nervous. I’m always nervous, and I always tell folks this. See, I did it again just there. After lunch I stood up and did my thing. I nailed it, and others felt I nailed it too. People like Neil Morrison, Alison Chisnell and Natasha Stallard. People I respect because I know they are authentic. And if they think I’m doing a good job, well that will do for me.
Wind the clock forward to today and I am humbled and excited by the speaking opportunities and possibilities that are presenting themselves since the day I nailed it. You can see some of them, including my September trip to Ohio (pinch myself) emerging here. And I’m currently doing exciting work with some great people at Careergro, helping them bring their product to market here in the UK. Last December, one of the Directors of Careergro was in the audience at the conference and heard the talk I gave. How cool is that!
First I want to thank the CIPD for inviting me and in particular I want to acknowledge Laurie’s part in my recent success. Not only did she write a fabulous, timely blog post, but she has also reached out to me a few times since and given generous support. Thank you Laurie, and if ever I can do something for you, just ask and I’ll do it (so long as it doesn’t involve looking after Scrubby. I’m not big on cats – sorry).
Second, if I can spot these things and act on them, so can you. I encourage you to think for a few minutes. An idea will have caught your eye recently. Have you grabbed it? Are you acting on it?
Third. When you act on it and achieve what you wanted, please don’t forget to acknowledge the person who gave you the idea. Always remember, what goes around, comes around.
I met Natasha earlier this week. We’ve exchanged many tweets and I was excited about this opportunity to meet in real life. We had a flowing conversation and the time passed all too quickly, as it does when you’re in the flow. Natasha is a great listener. That’s a nice way of me saying I think I talked a bit too much.
One of the things I spoke about was nerves. I often get nervous when performing (in every sense of the word), particularly at the start of something. When I say nervous I mean sick to the bottom of my stomach locked up tight can barely talk or walk cold sweat fear of God. That kind of nervous. This is a shame because I enjoy what I do very much and I know if I could channel these nerves more effectively I could enjoy myself even more and give something much better to people.
Natasha suggested I try a slight shift in my thinking. Could I maybe convert nervous into excited? I’ll try anything and this sounds like a good idea thanks very much Natasha, let’s see when I can apply it.
Tomorrow I’ll be joining up with some of the biggest and best names in and around the world of social recruitment. I’ll be meeting some familiar faces and some new ones too. I’m confident that I will learn useful stuff and have a really good time, and make a useful contribution to the day. I’m nervous about excited by the possibilities.
On Friday evening I’ll be in the New Forest standing on stage performing to a group of friends and acquaintances. It’s our annual summer camp and therefore my annual big night out. I’ve been doing this for several years now and the organisers are always kind enough to invite me back. It’s high time I repaid myself and the audience for their faith in me. I am nervous about excited by the possibilities.
How will I get on? I am excited about checking in with you again next week to let you know.