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.

(from Expert Enough: Slaying Imposter Syndrome and Stepping Up to the Mic)

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.

Filed under: Speaking Tagged: expertise, fear, imposter syndrome, lauren bacon

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