Last week I was honored and delighted to speak at the AACI Jerusalem Professional Women’s Forum. I had a wonderful time meeting incredible, motivated, passionate, and inspiring women, and presenting practical tools for gaining real self-confidence, overcoming self-doubt, and getting proactive in our lives.
I was confident during my presentation and had a fun time connecting to my group participants and facilitating insightful discussion and learning. I prepared well for the talk and my efforts paid off. When I was done with my talk, I sat back in my chair, pleased and happy with myself. Little did I know how unprepared I was for what was about to come next.
I was told that the second half of this meeting included networking with each other. I thought networking meant walking around, meeting and learning about each other and what we do. Although the afternoon included this type of networking as well, I was unaware that before we did that, we would each individually be sharing our ‘elevator pitch’ with the group. Each woman stood up to tell all of us who they are and what they do. Although I know all of this about myself, I felt stuck and nervous about how I would present myself.
The interesting part is, I had already given, what I thought, was a great talk; a good representation of who I am, what I do, and how I do it (the key points of a well-crafted Elevator Pitch.) But because I was not prepared for it, I panicked a bit and got nervous. As I listened to the other women present themselves with ease and professionalism, it was clear to me that they had given time to crafting an Elevator Pitch they were happy with. This was my first time attending this women’s forum, and in recent months, I had given little attention to my official Elevator Pitch even though I am speaking to people all the time about who I am, what I do, and how I do it. While I sat there listening to these other women, I kept thinking about how I would be presenting myself.
I thought: “Oh, I like how she just did that. I should do it that way. Oh, she sounds really professional, I hope mine sounds just as professional as hers. Should I start with my ‘why I do this work’, or should I do it like that woman just did it? Oh, she really practiced hers. That was awesome. I am not prepared for this. What do I do?!”
My turn finally came. I stood up, and said something that was probably coherent, but to me sounded like this:
What went wrong for me? Why was I panicking? I just gave a fantastic talk that people really enjoyed. I am confident in who I am, in what I do, and how I do it. What was I so concerned about?
My problem was that I was taking, what I call, an Outside-In approach. The outside-in approach was me comparing myself to others and thinking about all the things I should be doing. Granted, I also was not prepared for me presenting my Elevator Pitch, which triggered my thought that ‘as a professional coach I should always be prepared.’
Thinking and behaving in this way is stressful. Instead of me going back to myself, being calm, and presenting myself with the confidence of what I already know, I thought that I would do it better if I copied how others were doing it. I thought, “Well, they are awesome at it. If I do it that way, I will sound just as awesome, right?”
Trying to act like or be someone else (or something that we are not) is inauthentic and could be quite stressful, especially when we are concerned about what impression we are making on others, like I was.
Instead it is more effective to be honest with ourselves and look to ourselves for the answers for how we want to present ourselves to others. We will have more success connecting to others and inspiring them about what we do and how we do it when we are being authentic to who we are. We also learn and grow the most when we do our best with what we already know and are honest with ourselves about what we want to work on moving forward.
I learned something about myself that afternoon. I learned that I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be. I also learned that I want to and will practice my Elevator Pitch and be prepared to give it the way I like it whenever the situation presents itself.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to be in touch with me anytime.
In support and in awe of all that we are,