Thursday, 17 November 2011

Facing demons

I've just spent an amazing couple of days at the NextGen Broadband conference in Bristol, of which more tomorrow once I've had time to reflect on and digest all that I've heard. But for now, I wanted to share with you how fantastic I'm feeling about having faced down another demon, and achieved another first at the same time.

I've blogged before thatI don't always feel as confident as I can appear, and that putting myself out there in public is not necessarily something I look forward to. I was going to say, not something I find easy but the truth is, that while I don't like it, these days I don't actually find it that hard. Frequent forays into the limelight mean that I seem to have found a way of dealing with it and I've learned the things I need to do to come across well - how to project my voice, how to pad for time whilst thinking about what to say next, now to calm and centre myself before starting. All of which now helps with the swan* impression I have become adept at.

But none of that means I actually enjoy it. Admittedly there are some circumstances that are easier than others - smaller groups, familiar faces, a well kent subject - but for the rest? Well, it's just scary. Last week I did my first national conference plenary presentation. This week I went one step further and was a panelist on an 'expert debate' at the Next Gen conference. And although I was nervous, this week I decided not to let the nerves get the better of me, and with the help of my fellow panelists I actually managed to enjoy myself.

Apparently I was quite good too, earning lots of positive feedback and almost groupie-like attention afterwards. (These were IT boffs remember before you get too excited!) I was told I was a breath of fresh air (for which read, didn't know the detail) and willing to be controversial (for which read, didn't realise the sensitivities). But the comment I liked best was from the young female conference attendee, who thanked me for saying that the debates were too technical and virtually unintelligible to the lay person, and that if they wanted to make progress they would need to find a way to speak in plain English. She told me she had spent the conference wondering if she 'got it', but now she had the confidence to tell them just to explain it better. Result! I confess, that made my day.

And now, as I'm still buzzing with adrenalin at almost midnight, I can strongly recommend facing your own demons. The sense of achievement is immense. Knowing that you have done it will give you so much confidence. And if you're lucky, you might get the added bonus of being an inspiration to others.

What are you waiting for???

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