Stand and deliver

Feel the fear and do it anyway, says Amanda Hensman-Crook after speaking at a national event.

When the CSP asked me to talk about the first contact musculoskeletal service I run at a national multidisciplinary conference, I had mixed emotions. While I was honoured to represent my professional body, but the monkey on the other shoulder reminded me how anxious I still feel (after 23 years in practice) when presenting to colleagues at an in-service event. Speaking in front of a much larger audience was a big step-up. Anyway, it was done. I had agreed to do it and there was no turning back.

So the day arrived, and I was to speak first. This meant there was less time to hang around with my sweaty palms and palpitations, and it also gave me plenty of time to spend with the technical support team. For me, technology is another source of anxiety. The technician reassured me that the presentation was set up, and took me on to the podium to show me how to work the slides. After putting a remote control in my sweaty palm, as I paled he quickly realised that the arrow button was a better option.

I found I could see the next slide alongside the one I was speaking about. This meant when I got brain freeze, I knew what was coming next, but I less happy to find there was nowhere to put the ‘get out of jail’ notes I’d written to prevent me reading directly from the slides. 

As it turned out, it was a godsend to have something in my hands to stop that awkward ‘what do I do with my hands’ feeling I get when nervous. 

Fully inducted, I took my seat. The time came, and the chair called me to the podium. I drifted there feeling a strange ‘out of body’ type experience, and cursing my decision to wear stilettos instead of the usual flats. Beginning to feel more confident, I realised with horror that I had failed to press the arrow button and I hadn’t put the title page on the screen. Too late to worry, I glossed over it and carried on. Slowly, I started to enjoy it, thinking ‘bring on the questions’ at the end.

The delegates seemed to share my fear of microphones. They initially shouted questions from the floor. I asked if they could help me by using the mic, pointing out that I was just as nervous as them. 

Would I do it again? Yes. The nerves were short lived and it was empowering to speak on a topic I felt passionate about. 

So my message is to feel the fear and do it anyway. You never know. You might just enjoy it!

  • Amanda Hensman-Crook is based at Windermere Health Centre, Cumbria
Amanda Hensman-Crook

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