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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Make Yourself Uncomfortable

I'm giving a presentation next week to a room full of people...

... and I'm more nervous about it than I've been for any other presentation I've ever made.

This is highly unusual for me because I typically don't get nervous about presentations.

I love making presentations!

I've given hundreds, possibly even thousands, of presentations throughout my life.

As a student, you have to make presentations regularly... and I went to school for 21 years.

As an instructor, you're making presentations in every single class... and between teaching at Kaplan for almost nine years and teaching at Schulich for an additional five, I've spent hundreds of hours sharing ideas with people who've paid to listen to me speak.

As a marketer, you have to present your ideas constantly to various stakeholders... and I've been a marketer for over two decades.

Over the years, I've presented to senior executives and corporate boards. I've appeared on industry panels at various conferences. I've given media interviews, which aren't exactly the same as giving presentations but can elicit the same feeling of anxiousness.

You get the idea: I'm not one who usually gets nervous speaking in front of people.

So what's so different about next week?

Next week I need to have my presentation memorized.

This is extremely uncomfortable for me because I do not have a particularly strong memory.

My memory isn't a problem for most presentations because I don't normally use scripts. Instead, when I need to present something, I make sure I know my material so well that I can just speak to the audience as if we were having a conversation.

If you don't have a script, you can't mess up your lines.

But because I'm so comfortable giving presentations the way I do them, they don't represent a challenge for me anymore.

And it's impossible to improve yourself when you aren't being challenged.

So when I saw that DisruptHR Vaughan was looking for keynote speakers, and I noticed the very innovative format they use for their events, I was intrigued enough to apply.

What's the format? Presenters at this conference are given exactly five minutes to speak.

They get to use 20 slides, no more and no less.

The slides change automatically every 15 seconds.

And no notes of any kind are allowed.

I thought the format was interesting, and I've never spoken at a conference primarily targeted at a group of HR professionals.

So I decided to apply, and the organizers decided they liked my proposed topic: "How Bad Recruitment Processes are a Risk to your Talent Acquisition Efforts & Employer Brand."

"But wait," you might ask, "can't you do what you always do and just have a conversation without using a script?"

Sure, I could do that. But then that wouldn't be a challenge.

I won't spoil the surprise for anybody reading this who may have already purchased tickets to attend the event, but I'm doing something that absolutely, positively requires me to memorize a five-minute script. Perfectly.

Because if I mess it up even a little bit, the audience will absolutely, positively know.

I finished writing my script yesterday afternoon.

And now I have exactly one week to memorize 120 sentences.

The idea of fumbling or forgetting a line that throws off my timing and ruins my entire presentation makes me nervous. Very, very nervous.

But if I can figure out how to make it happen, to memorize those lines and deliver them flawlessly on stage to a room full of people, I'll be a better presenter because of it.

Staying comfortable is a safe and easy thing to do.

But making yourself uncomfortable every so often has its benefits.


P.S. If you're not doing anything next Wednesday night (October 26th) and want to attend, you can buy tickets here. Use discount code DAVID20 to get 20% off your ticket price.


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