How Do You Run Workshops, Oksana?!
March 2019 was extremely eventful for me. Now I am recovering from my huge event yesterday. It took me a few months to prepare it. Four workshops in one month that is a lot! Good-bye, my comfort zone.
Think this way, I am an introvert, and I love being in my own space, in my own world. To many pleasures in life I say “No, I am too busy.” Therefore, for me to go and present for a few hours in front of people I do not know, instead of being somewhere in Varadero, perhaps, sipping on a Mojito and slowly swaying to the sounds of salsa is quite a mission. However, I love what I do.
And often times people ask me: “Oksana, how do you do it? How do you run your events? You are so brave!”. I simply say “I don't know, I just do it.”
Anyone who has ever run or runs events knows it is a lot of work. Especially when you have next to little or no support or help. It can be daunting. Honestly. In preparing for my events I lose sleep and I work hours and hours straight with no stop. I am a true Taurus when it comes to things like responsibility, delivery and show up no matter what.
But… it was not always this way. And I will tell you a story.
English is not my first language, not even the second. With me arriving in Australia from Ukraine 6 years ago, I had to face challenges I could never dream about.
Little did I know back then that my two degrees and my knowledge of foreign languages will impress nobody! More so, being an immigrant I had to listen to people commenting on my accent, pronunciation, words order…and when you are being criticised a lot and often one thing happens - you lose confidence.
If somebody came over to me 5 years ago saying: “Oksana, one day you will be standing in front of an audience of 30-50 people delivering a coherent speech for 2 hours in English and you will be loving it” I would have cried from fear.
But fear is just a state and that is what I learnt. And as every state, it can be changed. And it does just change, it transforms into different states. And my point is to transform fear into excitement, happiness, anticipation, celebration. This is the mode I put myself in before I go on stage.
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
- Jim Morrison
You can only grow when you face your fear. There is simply nothing else in the world that would make you progress and grow more as a person as walking along with your fear.
Here is my strategy of taming the beast:
Know your outcome. Why are you doing what you are doing? (It is OK if the reason is not all that altruistic at the very beginning. It does not need to be something like “To make the world a better place”. Instead, it can be something as trivial as “to be able to speak consequently for 5 mins without blushing and mumbling”. Just be honest with yourself.
Define your audience. Who do you want to run this even for? Your former classmates? Your gym buddies? It will help you adjust the presentation to a specific group of people. You can enrich it with a well-timed joke. It will relax both you and them. The more relaxed you are the more they`ll like you.
Prepare. This is the golden rule. Know your stuff. Do the research. Know the authors of the books on the same topic. Know the unfamiliar words. Write down your speech word for word, prepare the PowerPoint presentation, print out your speech and mark down all the intonation and practice daily.
I used to think that I needed to read my speeches out loud 50 times because of my accent. In a stressful moment, my mind just shuts off and go autopilot with me speaking Ukrainian or Russian. And for that, I used to go to the beach and sit far from everyone reading the speech out loud again and again.
I know you may say that you are not that dumb, and English is your first language and you know your stuff. And I would say: “Great, print the speech out and practice, practice, practice”. Unless you are an International Public Speaking Champion, and even they practice a lot!
Join a Public Speaking Club. I did. It is a commitment. It is hard work. It is after hours. But it is so rewarding. Not only you will learn to speak. You will learn how to behave on the stage. You will learn how to present with grace, how to be a leader, how to master your voice so that you can captivate the audience with every instrument that you naturally poses. It was my biggest investments of all. Plus, the people you meet at clubs like that - they are a different type of humans.
If you are interested in joining a club, please check this one out.
Set the date and the venue and announce it. Burn the boats. Leave yourself no room for escape. It is a great strategy and it gives you a solid social exposure. You will have to make it all happen once you have already committed.
A helpful platform for creating and announcing your events is Meetup.com. You can organise your own group and people will add themselves to it based on their interests. Please feel free to join My Group.
Show up on the day and believe that you are going to do an outstanding job. Bring somebody who loves you to support you and to run the errands for you while you are setting up the computer. Remember to check with the venue a few days in advance if your booking is still in place.
Present and be authentic. Be yourself. Your audience will forgive your small mistakes. Your little faults will not be noticeable. What will be noticeable though is that if you are fake? Be yourself and you will observe how your fear is leaving the room to go get some Mojito to relax.
And, I would have so many more tips to share with you, some fun facts and some really good points to take into consideration. If you are interested - drop me a line and I will happily walk you through.
I have been there. I have had my fear looking me into the eye saying: “ You can’t do it! You? What do you think of yourself? You are just an immigrant. Listen to this awful English that you speak. People will not understand you.” And I used to listen to that voice until I decided to be the Boss.
Fear can stop you from achieving any dreams. Don’t let it boss you around. If you feel that you cannot conquer it just yet, dance with it.
At the end of the day, your fear is nothing but you.
Comment below if you want to receive a free ticket to my next Workshop in Sydney on April 18th.
Contact me if you have questions, concerns, ideas or some other valuable tips. Oroma@oksanaroma.com
PS Even impossible is possible.