Scripted Speech, Empty Feeling, and Narrative Changing Walk into a Bar

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

It was a sunny morning in a cold Endeavor Indonesia office room yet my hands were sweating. In a few minutes, I would start my first role as a host for big-scale semester-long webinar series. My google sheets were the thing that kept me warm and safe for they contained the carefully scripted narrative words I would ‘perform’ during my presentation. The final outcome was positive, but somehow my heart went sideways.

Over that six months journey, all I could remember were the moments I tuned out to what the speakers were saying because I was focusing on finding my next scripted responses on my precious google sheets. In moderating, there’s an urgent need to perform. While the main goal is to engage and inspire, I tend to disappear into my notes, sacrifice the audiences and built a barrier for my own comfort and security. I was more terrified of losing the notes rather than engaging with the present situation.

My internalization is bigger than it seems. Especially in my professional role as communications marketer and community builder. Genuine engagement and being in the present is crucial.

When I thought I showed symptoms of Atychiphobia, I looked to confirm my diagnosis.

“Psychology plays an enormous role in tackling risk,” Endeavor Co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg wrote in Crazy is a Compliment. “The biggest barriers to success are not structural or cultural; they are mental and emotional.”

I do resonate a lot with the term ‘risk’ that I tried my best to avoid having unsuccessful webinars by controlling every single of my speech. I set a wrong definition of what success means.

“I too used to worry about “forgetting lines” during Endeavor Gala speeches until my husband Bruce convinced me that no one in the audience either knew or cared about what words I had INTENDED to say,” said Linda during my short interview. “They only care about whether I’m communicating with authenticity and emotion that connects with them at the moment.” 

To be sure, not all scripted speech is bad. “It depends on the context,” said Gibran Huzaifah, a fish farmer-turned-agriculture tech entrepreneur, and eFishery founder and CEO. ”When you have a time limit, you want to make sure important messages and punchline are delivered. But when it comes to conveying your messages, it’s all come to the how-to”, said Gibran. “Stories and emotions matter. Your mimic, articulation, passion, and energy that radiates from within do play a huge role in delivering your intention”, he added. 

To calm myself, I googled dozens of articles for the how-to, tips and tricks, even suggestions from experts. Finally I realized that I haven’t identified the main source of my urge to script things. It was me. Upon further reflection, came to the conclusion that I have fear of public humiliation — that will somehow bungle things up, and embarrass myself and the organization I represent.

After digging deeper, I realized that I am afraid of not having the being ‘smart enough’ or of not having the knowledge to moderate a session of expert speakers.

In the end, be a better version of myself is what I want more than anything.

With that understanding, I formulated solutions to minimize the fear and post-empty feeling I encounter every time: I changed the narrative that I have in my head.

Changing the narrative to oneself is a powerful tool in self-development. Now, every time the self-doubt hit and my hand begin to write down the script, I take a moment and speak to myself, “Hey El, you can only be beneficial if others can benefit first. What would the audience want? To feel welcomed. They come with an expectation that this session will bring valuable knowledge. What do you and the audience have in common? Each came to learn. You just happen to know 1% more than they do and 1% is better than zero.” 

Sometimes the issue is bigger than what it appears. Practicing all the tips listed in various articles will not change anything if there’s still a burden from within. I should also thank one saying, “Trust yourself more than you trust your script”. After all, a leap of faith is what we all need.

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