Be comfortable looking like an idiot
I get nervous about public speaking; I don't have much experience (hopefully this won't be for long) and I don't think I am a natural in front of an audience. Sometimes this impacts my confidence. So I'm working on ways to overcome it.
When facing challenges, I find it helps to remember the reasons why I chose to do it. The reason I talk about my experiences is because I want to grow professionally and personally. I care about improving all of my skills, not just coding. I enjoy reflecting on what I learn, and I want to share my experiences. Who knows, someone might even learn something from me one day—that'd be amazing.
For my upcoming talk, I decided not to write a talk. Usually, I would write a talk word for word and rehearse it until I can recite a bunch of words that hardly register with me anymore; like a robot. I'm hoping that this approach of not writing the entire talk down will help me slow down and think about what I'm saying. I hope it will make me feel more present and in control of my talk. Along with this approach, comes the fear of forgetting what to say, not being able to find the right words, not knowing the answer to a question, jumbling and stumbling.
What's the worst that can happen?
Around 7 years ago, I decided that I needed to make some changes to my life. To help me find the courage to do it, I read a book called "Feel the Fear and do it anyway", which made me see that in most cases like this, the worst things that can happen really aren't that bad at all. Now I'm asking myself: What am I actually nervous about? I'm scared of messing up. Okay: So what if I mess up? What's the worst that'll happen? The worst that'll happen is i'll look like an idiot in front of an audience and as a consequence, I don't know how they will react.
The audience have no idea what I planned to say or if my rehearsal was much better than the real thing, so they won't know if I leave something out. This is an audience mostly made up of people who work in the same industry as me; people who may have been in exactly the same position as me before; people who probably don't care if I say the wrong word, pause for too long, forget a few bits of information here and there. And if they do care or give negative feedback? That might be uncomfortable, but hopefully they will forget about it soon enough and I will learn from the experience. It's impossible to improve without practice, so I need to be comfortable with messing up and not knowing how something will work out; I need to be comfortable looking like an idiot. As Susan Jeffers says: "The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it".