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  • Writer's pictureBen R

Online Presentation Results With NAMI

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

I had a fairly busy end of the week last week, working with NAMI on giving two presentations online to share my personal story.

The first presentation was to a group of junior college nursing students and their professors about defining mental illness and mental health, it's unique expressions in people and dealing with COVID-19. There were about 10-15 people on this video presentation, not including the community director for our local NAMI chapter, myself, and one other NAMI volunteer.

I was asked to present toward the end of the powerpoint slideshow, before a Q & A wrap up. Needless to say, my public speaking skills are a work in progress and I would have preferred to go towards the beginning. The other NAMI volunteer also has done a multitude of presentations before and shared their story verbatim, without reading off a piece of paper.

So what were my prevailing feelings as it was getting close to my turn to speak?

  • I hope I don't spend too much time, just reading off the paper and not looking up at my audience

  • I can feel my heart rate increasing by the minute

  • What if they can't hear me clearly (mumbling, reading too fast)

  • I hated public speaking growing up

  • Sweaty palms

  • Labored breathing

  • Over-thinking, which led to a poor presentation from myself

Over-thinking can be a deal-breaker at times. I ended up finding myself skimming through my story as I presented. I could not only FEEL, but SEE the looks on some faces. At the end, despite the thanks for sharing, I honestly felt somewhat defeated.

A silver lining in all of this was that I had another presentation in less than 24 hours, so I didn't have much time to dwell on how I felt. I just needed to move forward.

I promised myself this time I would just read verbatim my story. In front of nearly 60 participants at our local Workforce Development Center, I did just that. This time I felt empowered. Plus it didn't hurt receiving written thanks for sharing and feedback.

I ended up leaving the presentation a speaker with hope for future speaking engagements, increased confidence, and increased self-worth. I do not expect to get paid for quite awhile with public speaking, so each experience will hopefully work me toward that goal.

So if you are ever interested in working toward speaking on advocacy, here's my recommendations:

  • Take a deep breath. You can do this. You are working toward a goal, one small step at a time

  • Don't over-think, just try to be prepared as best as possible.

  • Not everyone you speak too will physically show or take you seriously. It's OK. The point is to reach out to those who will take something from your speech and run with it for their own personal use.

- Ben

Click here to read a testimony from a participant.

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