Behind the Screens of my TEDx Talk

This week’s guest post is from Dima Ghawi. After emigrating from her home country of Jordan in l996 Dima pursued her passion for education and leadership, obtaining a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego and an undergraduate degree in Economics from San Diego State University. Dima is currently the Talent Development Manager for IBM at the Baton Rouge Services Center; responsible for implementing training programs for new employees. In this post, Dima talks about her experience with TEDx:

It Didn’t Take my Breath Away.

Imagine you are backstage about to deliver a speech, then the event organizer approaches you and says “you are up next.” You follow her through a dark hallway towards the stage, and with every step your heart beats a little faster. By the time you get a glimpse of the audience, your heart is beating so fast that its rhythm sounds like a drum circle pounding on your eardrums. The intensity is taking away your breath.

I kept getting this image as I was preparing for my TEDx. I was terrified to stand in the middle of the famous big red circle, with everyone’s attention directed at me. I imagined at that moment losing my breath, while experiencing my body becoming paralyzed. This fear was not unrealistic, similar experiences had happened to me in the past, and I was worried that it would happen again.

Prior to the TEDx event, I was searching for ways to avoid this nightmare from occurring, and I was trying to understand the origin of my stage fright. Through this process, I surprisingly discovered that it was caused by another fear; the fear of being judged. Standing on the stage with the lights directed solely on me, while four hundred sets of eyes and ears focused on my every move and every word, made me feel exposed and unprotected by my perfection mask. It felt that the energy was moving in one direction only, and it was targeted at me, filled with the audiences’ expectation of the quality standards of a TEDx Talk.

Delivering the speech with this image in mind would’ve taken my breath away, and not in a good way. So in my preparation, I looked for ways to redirect the energy back to the audience, and what a better way to do that than by sharing with them a gift, the gift of healing. That thought helped to shift my fear of being judged into becoming an instrument of inspiration and empowerment. My speech was no longer about me; its purpose became to help the audience with their own journey. Only then, the fear of being judged started to dissolve.

My advice to anyone with stage fright is:

  1. Ask yourself, what is the source of your fear? Whether it is the fear of being judged, fear of making mistakes, fear of losing your train of thought, fear of the audience seeing your flaws, fear of failure, or a mix of all of them.
  2. Acknowledge your fears, and remind yourself of the value that you are offering your audience – the special gift that you are delivering in the form of words.
  3. Focus on how your speech will serve them and make a difference in their lives with the products, services, and inspiration that you are sharing with them.
  4. Once the audience senses that you are sincere, and have value to offer, then they will connect with you, and the feeling of connection will put you at ease.

Whether you are speaking to an audience of five or five thousand, remember that you have the power to deliver a speech that leaves your audience breathless.

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