Growing By Speaking In Front of 600 Women

Last Thursday I woke up in Nashville with a knot in my stomach. I was in Nashville, of course, for the annual Blissdom conference and I had agreed to speak right after the keynote speaker, Brené Brown, about my Anonymous Blog Project to a room full of women bloggers. When I was asked by Barbara Jones last November to share my project I immediately agreed. It wasn’t until the day of the conference that I gave my decision a second thought.

On Thursday morning around 8:50 when I walked into the Opryland’s Tennessee ballroom I couldn’t believe how big the room was and I also couldn’t believe how many women were sitting at tables anxiously waiting for Blissdom 2011 to kick off.  This shouldn’t have been surprising as I was in that very room last year, but all I could think about was how I was going to pull off my presentation in that HUGE room. And my knot got tighter again. I was, however, comforted by seeing women I know and respect. Seeing and hugging them definitely calmed my spirits, but yet the knot persisted.

Much of what happened that kicked off the conference I don’t remember because I was so busy being nervous. But then Brené Brown started her keynote about embracing vulnerability in order to grow. I couldn’t have heard that at a better time. I had clearly put myself in a vulnerable place. I had never spoken in front of that many people before. I remember sitting at my table and deciding to embrace the moment of my talk instead of being terribly afraid of it and a relative calm came over me for a split second and the knot subsided.

When Brené’s talk was over and Barbara Jones got up to introduce me the knot came back but went away rather quickly. I didn’t have time to think about the knot anymore. I had to get on stage!

When I took the stage …

I remember speaking. I remember not being able to see the crowd for the spotlights. I remember starting to warm up to the crowd. I remember deciding while on stage that I want to speak in front of more and more people in the coming years. I remember thinking I can do this!

But everything else is a total blur.

I can’t wait until I get the opportunity to speak to even larger audiences and really work on giving great presentations. I have always been shy, but speaking on stage alone last week has awakened a desire to speak more often.

We’ll see what the rest of 2011 holds.


  1. I’ve heard you speak publicly and have spoken to you privately. What you have to say is valuable and a voice like yours is needs to be heard more in the blogging community by women and men. I hope you do branch out and accept more speaking opportunities

    For myself one of my aims is to have a speaking opportunity of my own within my own community. Here’s to growing in 2011


  2. I am so proud of you Jennifer!

    A few years ago I was the President of my daughter’s co-op and needed to do monthly meetings. And even though I had to present to basically the same room full of people each month, I still got nervous. My group was no where near 600! However, I believe our anxiety was the same. Darn that knot! ;->

    As my mom would always tell me, “Remember to breathe”. I wish you fantastic luck with your future presentations Jennifer!


  3. Isn’t that funny the way that works? I, too have always been shy and terrified of speaking in front of people. But the more, I do it, the more I want to do it. I haven’t spoken yet in front of 600 people, so I can only imagine what that would feel like.

    Thanks for sharing the way you felt!


  4. Public speaking is my all time favorite thing. Nothing excites me more. If could do a big public speaking engagement every week I would. It allows me to go back to my stand up comedy roots and my passion for teaching all at once. LOVE IT. I hope you get to do more as well- eventually it won’t all be a blur!


  5. I’ve had that feeling with video and live streaming. I’m excited until it’s time to do it – then nervous – then joyful! Video blogging has become addictive to me. :)


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