This was a really exciting but also very stressful undertaking! I'm tremendously thankful to my many friends and colleagues who gave me advice in preparing this speech. Below are some of my main takeaways I learned from this experience that hopefully you can use the next time you take a risk and share your voice in a public arena.
Start planning far in advance
I procrastinated and only started seriously sitting down to write the speech about two weeks in advance. I had the freedom to chose my own topic and I decided to write about failure. While therapeutic, let's just say it was not very fun to do some serious soul searching and begin to clearly articulate past experiences that were very painful. Wine proved to be crucial to the writing process! Having multiple nights to allow myself to take breaks and revisit the writing was imperative.
Be open to serious feedback
The original version of this speech also mentioned two more recent failures, but after careful consideration and advice from colleagues, I chose not to include them in the speech. I do hope to share these stories with you in the near future, but this arena was not yet the ideal time.
I shared versions of the speech with trusted friends and colleagues and asked them for brutal advice. It was helpful to hear a variety of initial reactions to the speech. But ultimately, I synthesized the various opinions and formulated my own.
Practice, practice, practice!
While I did a significant amount of practice, I wish I had done more. I talked out loud to myself while driving. I read over the speech on my phone when I was surrounded by crowds but had a moment to spare. Some of my friends were kind enough to spare thirty minutes to listen to me and share their thoughts. Imagine Talks was great and offered dress rehearsals. Overall, I suggest that you spend as much time as possible practicing in a situation as close as possible to the real speech, standing up, in heels, while clicking the Power Point slides.
The world needs to hear your story! Be vulnerable!
I was really scared to be this open about my failures, but I know there are others who have had similar tough times. We need to share our voices to remind each other we are not alone. After the speech, it was all worth it when many members of the audience privately confided in me about their similar challenges.
Cheers to failing forward together!