Not exactly the most gripping topic — but since public speaking anxiety is as crippling as it is to me, I bet there are others out there as well. In fact, last time I wrote about this (click here), a lot of you jumped out to say hello. And now is a natural time for an update!
Despite my own sometimes devastating public speaking anxiety, I jumped at the change to speak at Vegas’ Meet, Plan, Go. Part of the reason was the company: JoAnna of Kaleidoscopic Wanderings was putting on the event, and Diana of DTravelsRound was going to be my fellow speaker. No one could believe I had agreed to do this, but encouraging people with major interest in travel to get out there and do it? I was game.
Then my worst nightmare happened.
I was the fourth speaker out of four. Number three? The stunning Judy Irving, a professional motivational speaker and life coach. The way she was able to speak to the audience was a sight to behold. Her charming southern twang, the way she paused… Everyone was ready to head straight to the airport to buy the next ticket out of town.
Then, right when she had us, she dove into her own story. Her beloved husband had passed away before they could take their Big Trip. On the slideshow behind her? Photos of her on that trip — with a friend who had survived stage four cancer.
Not a dry eye in the house.
At that moment, I was just grateful to be in the same room with someone so courageous as to share such a personal story about not waiting until such loss, or surviving something life-threatening, to get out there and follow your dreams. I was euphoric.
And then… I heard, “And heeeeeere’s Abby!”
No way. I turned to Judy and said, “I can’t follow that.” She said dryly, “It’s too late for that.”
I somehow got my story out, not even looking at my notes, hands shaking, shoving my public speaking anxiety to the back of mind, trying to make eye contact with some of the audience members, who were all looking up so kindly. I think I got some good points in, about coming back to life and work after time off.
As luck would have it, not long afterwards, I was asked to do a few TV appearances for Vegas magazine‘s annual Vegas Gives charity event. (Read about the eight inspiring women we’re honoring here, including Holly Madison and Emily Jillette, wife of Penn.)
Yes, LIVE TV.
Again, the nerves got going, my public speaking anxiety kicking into high gear, but this time everything was somewhat in check. My fellow guest? One of our charitable women, the beautiful Vanessa Breitling, who was going to share her powerful story about getting involved with the Pregnancy Foundation after two very difficult pregnancies. She was more nervous than me!
We survived. Aside from almost saying the wrong date, I did fine!
One more TV appearance, and then the big event, where I’ll be forced to take the microphone.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… I think I can handle it.
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