Putting yourself in the arena

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I recently completed my first group facilitation. It was an experience that came with a roller coaster of emotions.

I’ve never been one for speaking in front of groups, if I’m being honest, I’ve never been one to speak up even in a group of familiar faces. Over time I’ve let opportunities of good suggestions go by simply because I was too afraid of saying the wrong thing and of the reaction I may receive.

However the past year I have found myself on a journey that has led me to where I am today. I still wouldn’t claim to be a confident person however if an opportunity came up there is no way I am going to let it pass. 

This week I facilitated a Business Builders Group discussion to a group of 10 business owners. You may be thinking, 10 people, what was I so afraid of. But picture standing in front of an intimate group of business owners who are experts in their fields, who have paid to attend and who have come to this session for an education. They’re looking for knowledge to take back and implement in their businesses.

“When I realized that I was not presenting I was in fact facilitating, that’s when my nerves kicked in.”

Throughout our schooling years we are required to complete a number of presentations however how often are you asked to facilitate a session? On my count, never. So when I realized that I was not presenting I was in fact facilitating, that’s when my nerves kicked in.

I under estimated the amount of time involved in preparing for such a facilitation however I realized the true importance of practice makes perfect. At the start of the year I told myself to stop striving for perfection and to instead strive for excellence and this has changed the way I play the game. In reality, are any of us perfect?  

I knew my facilitation was never going to be perfect and I knew there would be times where I would lose my train of thought, and that I would mispronounce the word statistics – yes it was a real Fun with Dick and Jane moment – for those of you who have seen the movie. But allowing myself permission to have these moments eased the nerves tremendously.

The first practice run I did to a solo audience. My mentor. The person who has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and forced me to grow and who also happens to be the company CEO. One single person sitting in a boardroom sized arena. In my mind that was more nerve-wracking than presenting to a group. But I made the decision to go in with courage and to throw myself 100% in. He was giving me his valuable time, it was the least I could do.

“I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time.” – Brenè Brown

After three weeks of research and compiling notes, re-arranging a power point presentation, a couple of solo audience rehearsals and a weekend of reading and practicing, the morning was upon me. To my surprise, I wasn’t nervous. Until the first person walked through the door.

I was leading the conversations on the topic of digital marketing based on my key learnings from a recent conference I had attended. One of the quotes I referred to was “remember 100% of your audience are human”. I had heard this at the conference and it rang home to me and made me feel a sense of relief. Little did I know that this is what got me through my facilitation.

The session flowed. It sparked great conversations and opportunities for collaboration – which was the overall goal and the feedback was positive.

I was in a safe place surrounded by people who would be just as nervous as I was to stand up and present. I am human, they were human, humans make mistakes. The session wasn’t perfect. But I wasn’t striving for perfection, I was striving for excellence and I achieved it.

So when are you going to step into the arena?

Meghan Rogers, Client Engagement & Marketing Coordinator , Strategem

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