When you run your own business you will frequently find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Like the first time you attend a big networking event, give a presentation to people you don’t know or publish your first blog.
10 years ago, when I started my coaching & mentoring business I hated being in the spotlight, something I had never needed to be with my corporate training business. Yet here I was, hesitating to contribute to discussions on my first professional social media network and wondering why anyone would be interested in what I have to say! At live networking meetings I felt self-conscious, occasionally stammering through my elevator speech, often wanting to hide at the back of the room.
A few years later I was hosting large events, had raised my profile substantially and was building a following on social media. I was once interviewed on radio – on my own – for 90 minutes and I was only a little nervous beforehand.
I have just released my first YouTube video called “Boosting your chances of success in business”. Speaking on camera, for all the world to see, used to feel even more daunting than appearing on the radio. Despite the fact that not everything went according to plan during the recording, I didn’t let my nerves affect me. So what has changed?
Three key things I’ve learnt that may help you too:
1. Whatever new situation you find yourself in, always prepare as best as you can
For the radio interview I mentioned earlier, I prepared myself by jotting down some bullet points on key themes and statistics so I wouldn’t forget them. I even visualised being in a small room talking into a microphone and wearing a headset.
When it came to recording my video, I did a few practice runs until I felt confident that I wouldn’t forget any of the tips I was trying to get across. Good preparation will give you confidence whether you are speaking at a conference or getting ready for a new customer meeting or presentation – indeed, any situation that puts you in the spotlight and tests your performance.
2. Last-minute nerves may not always be a bad thing
Feeling nervous can at times work with you rather than against you. The effect of adrenaline can make you feel much more alert which may help to improve your performance. When I run a brand-new training event, for example, I find that this alertness helps me to react more quickly and deal better with things that don’t go according to plan.
Whilst excessive nervousness and panic can be disabling and affect performance negatively, you don’t want to be too calm either. Just telling yourself that there is no need to worry and that all will be OK may lead to complacency. Both are extremes and neither will be helpful when you want to perform at your best.
Women often want to be ‘superwomen’ and try to please everyone, but in doing so, we can be far too hard on ourselves. It is when you accept that ‘good’ is good enough and therefore perfectly acceptable, that you will come across as human, authentic and approachable in other people’s eyes.
When you watch my video you’ll realise that it isn’t in the recommended landscape format and there are also a few seconds missing at the beginning. But despite the flaws, I chose not to strive for perfection with my first YouTube presentation. Leo Tolstoy once said “If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” True?! So, why not remind yourself from time to time that not being perfect is actually OK.
By being prepared, embracing the inevitable nerves and accepting yourself as you are, you will feel authentic, alert and ready for action. That way you will get that huge sense of satisfaction when giving whatever your best may be … even when finding yourself in unfamiliar territory!
Ute is a bilingual (German) business coach & mentor who helps busy women to be visible, effective and profitable in business. To get her monthly tips and a free ‘Turn your Passion into Profit’ ebook, please visit the Success Network website.
Copyright 2012-2014, Ute Wieczorek-King
Photos: Ute Wieczorek-King