People often ask me how I became so confident onstage and started teaching others how to do the same. When I was a kid, I was onstage all the time, mostly dancing with my classmates in recitals. However, I was never a solo act. Any singing, dancing or speaking I did always happened in a group. That was the only way I felt secure.
Contrary to popular belief, I was not born with this much confidence! I used to be super shy. I was always a quiet, bookish kid, taller and smarter with braces and all kinds of awkward. Plus, I was a major perfectionist. I absolutely hated making mistakes. My face would turn bright red and my heart would pound in my throat anytime I had to stand up and speak. So, I avoided it, like everyone else.
Somehow, in spite of my fears, I still loved getting up onstage. Whether I was dancing as a head of lettuce in Peter Rabbit‘s garden in the fourth grade play, doing the Hustle with friends on the cafeteria stage after lunch, singing Jeremiah was a Bullfrog in front of the big kids, or putting on shows in my garage with my neighborhood friends, I loved the creativity and the excitement involved in performing.
Yet I still shied away from taking the spotlight for fear of looking stupid or worse, making a mistake!
However, by the time I got to high school, I was kind of sick of the wallflower act. So I purposefully pushed my boundaries and comfort zones – mainly with theater and singing activities – to break out of my introverted shell. Auditions were the worst! But I kept on trying. My senior year in high school, I tried out for the tap dancing part of Gloria in the musical, Bye Bye Birdie. The catch: I had lines. I got so terrified that I almost decided not to take the part!
Luckily, my friends convinced me to go for it and helped me build my confidence with all kinds of crazy exercises, like standing on a table wearing a gigantic blonde curly wig and singing the alphabet in a Russian accent! That one exercise went a long way towards curing me of worrying about feeling silly, that’s for sure.
After playing Gloria, my confidence grew each time I got on stage. I acted, danced, choreographed and directed many student theater projects during my four years at Georgetown University. During my time at Georgetown, I also won awards for Best Choreography and Excellence in Theater.
After college, I moved to Germany and lived there for almost 20 years. I learned the language through taking many conversation classes and working hard to understand and be understood by friends and strangers alike. Living in another country when you don’t speak the language is a real drag, that’s for sure. Talk about feeling silly! I was constantly making mistakes.
For those first few years, my confidence underwent daily trauma. Most people were nice enough, but I still felt less than adequate when I couldn’t find the bathroom, count my own money, or tell someone off after they took my parking space! But after a couple of years, I realized that the more I learned, the better I spoke and in turn, the more confident I felt speaking up in front of people. Slowly but surely, my fears disappeared.
As the years marched on and I worked my way through several civilian marketing, public affairs and corporate sponsorship positions within US Army Europe, I gained experience recording radio spots, speaking to groups of peers and presenting to superiors. When I later left Frankfurt/Main and moved north to Hamburg, I began promoting a line of natural paints and wood finishes that were made in Germany. My activities involved educating potential wholesale clients, speaking at trade shows and promoting the products in the media, including television appearances.
Near the end of my almost two decades in Germany, I spent some time teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to German corporate executives and also taught dance to students (K-8) from around the globe at a prestigious International School.
When I returned to the USA in 2007, I translated my teaching, speaking and writing experiences into a coaching career. These days, I am thrilled to help business people who think they might die when they get up and speak to feel strong and Self-assured when talking about their products and services to others.
(Bonus for me: I also found a new home as a choreographer at my local community theater. So I also help actors who think they can’t dance to feel competent and confident when dancing onstage in a show. Fun!)
Do you hate getting up in front of people and speaking? Is overcoming your fear of public speaking one of the top items on your Bucket List? Would you like to increase your confidence and therefore your chances of success in business?
If so, I’m your secret weapon. Contact me today.