It’s not how we react in the easy times. It’s who we are through the hard ones.
I was asked to give a talk to my biggest audience at that time. It was the opening keynote for a Fortune 100 financial institution – the talk that would set the vibe for the rest of their internal conference. I had to teach people in the financial industry how to pitch for what they wanted.
They told me 42,000 employees had been invited to watch live in-person and around the world. I stood backstage repeating my first sentence, “40 million Americans have used online dating.” Knowing that when I walked out there, all I had to do was take a deep breath and say that line, the rest would be easy.
It was! I was in the flow – rocking that stage, making them laugh, and helping them rethink how they ask for what they want. I was fully in my confidence enjoying that time being my engaging self, when something crazy happened. Something I was NOT prepared for.
I’m sharing with the audience all about how to use my methodology, when someone from the front raises their hand and shouts out, “Excuse me! There’s a spider next to your head.”
You don’t know who you are in a crisis until you’re in it. Lots of people say they’re calm under pressure, but then you see them in full panic when anything goes wrong. Other people say that they are totally chill when something surprises them, yet lose their shit when they didn’t plan for it. I like to say that I’m the person you go to when things go south, because I can make fast decisions that keep everyone safe. That day, my theory was tested in front of a LOT of people.
With my brain racing through all possible scenarios (such as – scream, run, freak out, wave my hands in the air, or kill it), I knew I had to do something that showed who I was. I knew in that really fast moment that if I killed it, a lot of people would be mad. If I swatted at it, it would end up on someone and they could freak out. I didn’t want it crawling on my head, so I did what I thought was best in this split-second decision.
I immediately went back to my rural-girl roots.
I said to the spider, “Well, that’s not where you’re supposed to be,” reached high and pinched its silk between my fingers so it wouldn’t have time to run up to my hand, and then walked it calmly over to the wall and said, “there you go.” Brushed off my hands, walked back to the main stage, and said “Now, where was I?”
And guess what they did when I said that? They laughed and gave me a huge round of applause. If I hadn’t earned their trust by that point, I definitely had it now.
As I walked through the halls of their headquarters that day, I would get stopped and told, “Your talk was wonderful, but that spider thing? SO good.”
It WAS a great talk. I got LOTS of great feedback from the speakers who would be sharing their talks the rest of the day. They told me how they were updating their talks as I was teaching – and that they got WAY better feedback than they usually do because of it. I was so grateful for their willingness to share their courageousness with me that day.
And yet, the thing I won’t forget about that talk – as it could have blended into every other talk I’ve ever given – is the moment I had to make a decision that showed who I was on a big stage.
Now it’s YOUR turn. Are you ready to learn how to show up and show off on a stage? Well, I’ve created a free training just for you! Check out How To Write A Stage-Worthy Talk In Under 45 Minutes at stageworthytalk.com and get started writing the talk that will get you into the flow so that not even a SPIDER can pull you out of it.