Many of you ask me how is it that I am always so confident speaking on stage, or at the events? Well, it hasn’t always been that way, but I guess it’s thanks to many things, like lots of years of practice, fun exploration and testing my limits in various situations, and tuning in to myself.
So I decided to bring you one of my favourite stories. :)
I hope you enjoy!
Funny how I had a sweet memory this week pop up in my mind while running a workshop for a group of people at Cultural Conversations with so many origins & backgrounds & heritage here in Nelson.
It made me remember how cool it was to be surrounded by my international colleagues in Paris and meet so many fantastic people from so many cultural backgrounds!
And today this Facebook memory pops up, from UNESCO. This photo was taken at the last of many many events I was involved in organising with the Hungarian Delegation as Deputy Permanent Delegate.
I remember it was special. And why was this such a special event in my life?
Well, it was my last “big gig” there, before finishing my mission in Paris as a diplomat - we were organising a cultural event with a concert. And also because I had to be up on stage with my boss and the artist in front of the full conference room, around 1000 guests, and help with sharing the story.
I was interpreting.
I had to do it as something came up last minute and we couldn’t get the professional interpreter for some reason. It was unexpected and frustrating, as a last minute change of this nature would be, but we had to adapt.
It was so out of my comfort zone. If it was in English, no problem, as I have done that so many times already. But I had to do it in French. And even though I spoke the language well, I have never translated in front of such a big audience publicly in this language.
I thought I was not the right fit for this job, and felt too responsible, what if I screw up, or what if I make a mistake, it can spoil the entire show, and I could let the entire team, and even my country I was representing, down… The pressure was sooo heavy on my shoulders…
I didn't even want to look towards the official interpreting booths where the official interpreters of UNESCO were getting ready to translate our words from the stage to the other official languages of UNESCO.
Professionals who do this for a job for many many years, with so much expertise, and here I am, will I be able to "wing it"? If I translate wrong, they will translate the wrong thing.... and the 1000+ people will not get the right message....ohhh, a storm of responsibility culminating in my head...
But there was no way to “exit”. My boss was firm, and very clear, and so was the situation. We had to do it, as the artist didn’t speak French, and I seemed to be the best fit for this job. There was no other option. So I went and did it.
Interestingly, looking back, it felt like my boss and everyone else believed in me in a moment when I totally didn’t in myself. I am very grateful for this now. They knew I could do it. Why didn’t I? It was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time…
I was sooo nervous, yet excited for the challenge! I had to fill the whole space with my voice and show up. But magically, before walking up on stage, my intuition signalled, and I listened. I remembered a cool public speaking tip I learned from an American expert many years ago... take a deep breath… tune in… and imagine the tone of your voice getting deeper as you get more relaxed.
So I did.
And my voice transformed to this super confident, warm tone. Something changed in me suddenly. I nailed it. First, I almost didn’t recognise my own voice. It felt so good as the words left my mouth. I remember I was standing there on the stage, staring into the flashlights, only seeing the silhouettes of the people, and it felt like the sun was caressing me with warm rays.
It was very empowering. I found my deep warm voice and it was ready to show up.
I remember later the applause and the crowd cheering. And then, my job was done, and the concert was ready to begin...
I walked off the stage, happy, realising only later that I tapped into something so much bigger than me. I found my inner confidence.
So, what's the conclusion of this story? The recipe for success and showing up?
I could identify from this story the 6 following things that worked for me:
The more I do it, the better I become in it, meaning, the easier and more enjoyable it gets. :) In this case, I was practising my French language skills to be able to confidently use it in every day situations first, then at professional negotiations. And eventually, it gave a base for my stage appearance to translate. It definitely wasn't an overnight success.
How will you put things now into perspective?
Sometimes, it's hard to do and figure out everything alone. If there is someone who I can look up on, who paves the way, believes in me and pushes me, I might do things that I would never even imagine myself. It opens up new opportunities.
The "mentor" might come into your life in different ways, or you might want to seek for one's company and guidance. Are you open to let/invite the mentor into your life?
It's great to multitask, but I might get distracted. So I chose one thing that became my focus and used it to move me through the hard part. I focused on the advice on taking a deep breath and deepening my voice, and I followed this thread throughout the whole appearance. I was listening to hearing my voice, how much deeper it gets, enjoying hearing how deep it is, playing with it, feeling it. It definitely helped.
Can you be aware on what you choose to focus on and guide you through your thing?
And change comes fast when you leave your comfort zone, as it makes you adapt, evolve, figure out new ways. It makes you grow. Change - it means it's not the same anymore. There is a new discovery element in it.
Where is your comfort zone? How often do you leave it? Are you forced to leave it, do you choose to leave it?
A prop comes to my mind as actors on stage use objects as props to help them perform. I used several things on stage to help me "perform". One was the paper with the translation of the text in my hand, to hang on to, and serve as a cheat sheet. It felt comforting and I could literally, physically hold on to something in that "insecure space" I felt in first.
Also, I used the flashlights and stage lighting when I imagined the sun shining on me and warmth spreading through and comforting again my body. This wasn't conscious first, but you can seek out consciously help from props to make you feel more grounded.
Will you think of using a prop to hang on to something comforting?
It's always there. Maybe at first I pushed it away. I wasn't ready to hear it. I was used and thought to using my head and tried to be smart from my head. Always. Then things changed, and I started to listen, tune in, listen more. Now I know most of the time when my intuition speaks to me, and I listen.
How do you know if it's there? Listen. Know that others have it, too. And go back to #1. Practice, practice, practice :) It worked for me.
I hope you enjoyed this personal story. I use these things all the time now, and the success of my social media presence stems from here, too. Let me know which of the conclusions resonates with you the most! Maybe you have something to add based on your experience?
I wish you enjoy your journey to finding your inner confidence.
Hi, I'm Bea!