A brown bag session is something we do at my workplace. We can volunteer to talk about something we are passionate about (roughly work-related) and share it with the rest of the business. It’s a bit like TEDx talks except it’s our own version.
2 months ago I decided to apply to give a presentation on how to start up your own website – for beginners. Just like most of the world, I have a huge fear of public speaking that I have always just brushed aside. In a casual setting and in meetings, I am a confident speaker but the thought of standing in front of a crowd is terrifying. I wanted to progress and gain confidence on my presentation skills to help advance professionally in my career but also because I want to someday give motivational speeches to support people who are afraid to get out there and live their lives and be themselves.
I thought the best way to do this was to teach people something that I love to do in my spare time which was How to Set Up A Website. It was pretty basic stuff such as connecting a domain name to your web hosting and what a cPanel was and how to use it. A lot of web hosting cut out these extra functionalities because they take a little more time to understand and they charge more so these basic steps provided me a more economical way of hosting loads of websites which I explain in the presentation.
I spent a whole month preparing for only 1 hour of speaking. I read loads of articles, watched youtube videos for tips, recorded myself over and over again and revised what I was going to say every week. One of the organisers of the brown bag offered to mentor me through the presentation which was a god send. He gave me really good tips and ran through the content structure and gave me the push and bit of support I really needed for the confidence to overcome my fear.
So… I took the plunge and applied to give a talk…
AND I did it!!!!!
The brown bag was yesterday and I still can’t believe I made it through without having a panic attack.
I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to say, I kept getting tongue tied and there were several times I stopped to just breathe in and out deeply and finally, the computer froze and broke down and I had to wait for the laptop to restart. I felt terrible after; super sweaty and really let down but the feedback was really positive.
I know it was supposed to be done for the benefit for others but it shook me so much I wanted to run away at many points. I don’t understand how speakers can do it in front of hundreds and thousands of strangers – it really does take so much gut and knowing your subject inside out. I felt terrified of speaking in front of people I half knew.
I’m really glad I pushed myself to do this and despite it not going exactly to plan it was a big step forward for me and I just wanted to say a big thank you to the 3 Brown Bag organisers who were really encouraging, supportive and positive throughout the build-up. This type of support makes me proud to work for the company I work for!
It will take time and practice but I want to continue doing this and eventually talk about more helpful and interesting topics to larger audiences.
You can find the Presentation file here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6vciatn2m32uvm1/BB-Website-Slides.pdf?dl=0