Lauren Bacon shares a personal demon (possibly a genetic one!) about public speaking and imposter syndrome:
My mother [is] a brilliant and successful woman who has spent her entire career in the nonprofit housing sector, and who runs an organization that she has built up from a small nonprofit with a few apartment buildings to a multimillion dollar, large-scale social enterprise that has inspired hundreds of social housing advocates.
She is amazing. And she has a terror of public speaking.
I was on the phone with her about a year ago, and she said, “Someone asked me to come and speak on this panel for [such-and-such conference]. And I said yes, but I don’t know what they hell I’m going to talk about, because it’s about social enterprise, and nonprofits and government working together, and I don’t know anything about that stuff!”
I sat in shocked silence at the other end of the phone. Two gears turned in my head. Click. One: My mother couldn’t possibly be more of an expert authority on these topics. Two: That is exactly what I hear in my head when I am invited to do something I haven’t done before.
It hurts my head to think of how many great ideas, how much wisdom and how much experience is out there, untapped — locked away in the minds and memories of people who don’t feel they have the expertise that gives them permission to share it.
I have any number of theories as to why that applies so strongly to public speaking (theory #529: many of us associate public speaking with priests, and feel we have to be somehow ordained if we want to do the same). But I hope Lauren’s post helps more people who have valuable ideas, insights and stories to share to step up and take the mic.