Public speaking became more critical after I Founded my first start-up, Safe & the City. It wasn’t a typical start-up and I wasn’t the typical Founder of a technology company. While I may have had people’s interest for a moment with that curiosity, I needed to quickly discover how I could translate that into my story, understand what challenges can others help me solve and how to package it into a compelling story for others to want to learn more.
I knew the importance of public speaking but it wasn’t really working for me. While the feedback from the audience and organisers was decent, something didn’t feel right. I said yes to way too many events, I became even more time-poor and stressed about the other work I wasn’t able to complete. Although I gained more experience and exposure with each event, I also was less-and-less prepared for each talk, not actively looking for ways to improve and ultimately not getting the results I wanted.
Out-of-the-blue an opportunity to turn this around came along. When speaking at a Women in Technology conference, two of TEDx organisers were listening in the audience. After the talk, they approached me and told me about their TEDx SquareMile event in London they wanted me to speak at.
I’ve always been a huge fan of TED and while I vaguely thought about myself on that stage, I took no action to pursue it. The excuses in my head would quickly shut that idea down, like:
“I’m not a world-class expert on any particular topic.”
“What would I talk about anyway (aside from my business)?”
“I have no time to prepare for this.”
I didn’t want these inner voices in my head to win this time with the opportunity of TEDx literally in front of me. I decided I needed to work to change my mindset. I took my TEDx talk as seriously as I run my business. I researched the discipline of public speaking from the inside out. I wrote a detailed plan, set milestones, timelines, got a coach, spoke to other TEDx speakers and worked hard to know when I looked back at this talk I would have no regrets.
After finishing my talk and walking down from the stage, a strange feeling came to me. I felt proud of myself. I knew all the work behind-the-scenes I put in, even if it looked to others like I was ‘just a natural’. Even that day I had people from the audience approach me, tell me how inspired they were and how they wished they could speak as well on stage. Each time, I would encourage them to do so but knew their inner voices likely would win and many of us were missing out on their incredible story.
Nearly 2 years ago now since giving my TEDx talk- Equality By Design, I’ve completely transformed myself from a good public speaker to an excellent one. I’ve now spoken to audiences of thousands of people, been on all-expense-paid trips to the UK, Germany, Poland and have been sought after for keynotes for big brands such as Hitachi. I supplemented my income with speaking, while still being able to talk about my business, other topics that I care about and empowering others to do the same.
I don’t want other’s stories to be lost, or up to chance like my opportunity was. I launched a course, Master the Main stage, to start addressing that. I packaged all the tools I learned in my year of preparation to make it easier for others, included mindset exercises to start to diminish the doubts that it is something you can’t do, a step-by-step guide of my process to follow and a preview the transformation you are in for.
If you are holding yourself back from becoming more visible on a main stage like TEDx, don’t! You are here to share your story and so many people who are out there that will be inspired and learn from it. If you or someone you know needs this message to get on stage, share this post and course with them.