Worst nightmare for a speaker turned into a life-changing moment

I had – I dare to call it – a life-changing experience.

Two big things have happened:

1. I suddenly understood the answer to the Ultimate Question of life, the universe, and everything because I turned 42 ;-). If you don’t know what this means, than I can surely recommend you to watch the movie ‘Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy’ – here’s already a small part from that movie.
2. And on the same day that I turned 42, I had the honor to deliver the opening presentation at the Professional Speakers Australia Convention. 180 colleague-professional speakers who gathered at the Goldcoast in Australia to share tips & tricks, network and learn from each other. And wow, it was a great conference! And it became a life-changing event for me because of some things that happened the previous evening.

Oh no, previous speaker uses ‘my exercise’

We had a great presentation from two great speakers around the use of humor. And they did a great job – absolutely top-professionals. But in the middle of the presentation, they already did something around 42 – the meaning of life. Oh no, I wanted to introduce the 42 in my presentation but okay … I can skip that part. But to close their presentation, they ended with an interactive exercise Yes And. Aaaargh … if you know my content, you would know that the whole Yes And exercise is the essential part of my presentation. My whole story is build around the Yes And Act mindset so you can imagine that my ‘world’ collapsed for a moment. I can’t do the same exercise for hundred and eighty peers. What will they think about me? A lot of ‘negative’ thoughts passed through my mind in those minutes.

A negative spiral

I really felt down and didn’t even stay for drinks & dinner afterwards because I had to solve this problem. I didn’t know what to do. I was in a dead end street and the little voices in my head didn’t stop shouting ‘stupid’ things about me and a lot of questions popped up: Am I good enough to speak on a stage like this? Why didn’t I prepare a kind of ’emergency’ presentation for situations like this? All the other speakers are so experienced and better than me? Why did I think that I could be an international speaker? …

Allow yourself to stay present and allow whatever happens

I took a cold shower and allowed myself to absorb the emotional state I was in … It was not a nice feeling but I tried to stay in the here and now. Just be with it …
And slowly silence arrived … and space for new thoughts. I asked myself the question ‘What would my girlfriend Liane say to me – at this moment?’ She would probably say something like ‘Cyriel, just do your own thing and trust yourself’. The negative questions faded out and new questions arose: Would I be daring to share this experience on stage? Am I willing to put myself at risk by showing my vulnerability? What struggle do I want to take to realize my international speaking ambitions? What’s my ‘job’ (mission) in this world? … and then ideas popped up in my mind to include these insights in my presentation. One of the ideas was to show ‘my thought’s’ on the screen by using a type-writer animation as if it looked that I was thinking the thoughts live on the screen. And the audience loved it. I also created a different context how to use the Yes And exercise and nobody minded that we did the same exercise because I offered a few extra layers.

The next level

By showing my vulnerability and trying to stay as authentic as possible, the whole presentation was a huge success and even led to a standing ovation from the whole audience. Wauw, what an experience #happy #proud #grateful I’m very happy that I could transform the negative emotions & thoughts into something useful and positive.

It feels like I’m ready for the next level.

Bring it on.