Thursday, 2 October 2008

Daunted by Greatness

tate modern, originally uploaded by

Yesterday I was at Loughborough University. Our coach, Faye, was launching her new business, Oracle Elite Performance management., with an impressive conference aiming to encourage people to think more widely and openly about their own specialist niches.
Faye began by showing a video of staggering power, flexibility and athleticism from a Chinese acrobat/dance troupe to encourage us to think beyond our own particular sports.
The first speaker was Ben. I have never heard him speak before, and I was very impressed. As well as a polished delivery, I was really impressed by his achievements and began to get quite scared about my capability to keep up with him in Antarctica.
Up next was Matt, a genuine expert who made me realise how little I learned at university and how much I have to learn about efficient expedition nutrition. (No banana sandwiches in this new world!)
After lunch came Vern. An enormous hulk of a man, running a multi-multi-multi-million dollar America's Cup campaign, working on his PhD, an ex-professional rugby player who was also a very polished motivational speaker.
By now I was getting pretty daunted about having to take to the stage after all this lot!
To make it worse the next speaker was an Olympic gold medallist! Jason Gardener's humble tales of that 39 seconds was absolutely gripping.
By now it was five to 5. Everyone was meant to go home at 5. And I was still left to talk. What a nightmare to have to blurt out a talk when the audience all want to go home! What a nightmare to follow all those incredible people! I was sweating and feeling as out of place as the wonderful Guy Goma. This couldn't get any worse.
Faye, trying to be lovely, bigged me up in her introduction, saying all sorts of generous things about my speaking skills. As a speaker there is nothing worse though than getting the audience's hopes up before you've said a word!
Her introduction sealed my fate. I got up, did my talk as well as I could, and was very relieved when it was all over and we could escape to spend the evening watching a rugby match that many of Faye's clients were playing in.
Moral of the day: insist you speak first! Everyone loves you, they're still interested, and you can relax for the rest of the day!



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