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Coping with Presentation Anxiety & "Stage Fright"

A conversation with Nancy Duarte in Silicon Valley

DuarteLast August I took the family back to the USA and Canada to see family and friends for the first time since our mom died in 2010. Our first stop was to see our dear friend Nancy Duarte in Silicon Valley. While visiting the cool new offices of Duarte, Inc., Nancy and I put on this little event and also recorded a short conversation. Below is a 12-minute segment from that chat. Nancy highlights the contents on her website, but I am including the video here as well. One of the things we touch upon is children. I'm much less productive professionally than I was before my daughter was born over three years ago, but I think I have a greater sense of purpose and a clearer idea about what's important and what is not. Since having a son almost two years ago things have become even more hectic, but also more rewarding. I think that having children has somehow changed my brain. This study suggests that perhaps my brain has indeed changed as a result of fatherhood: "A father sprouts supplemental neurons in his brain and experiences hormonal changes after the birth of a child." While my passion for work and keen interest in self-development and teaching and helping others has not declined in the least, I find that more and more things — everything, really — has taken a back seat to the simple idea of just being with my family here in Japan.

 
This moment will never happen again
I still get frustrated sometimes because I want to produce more professionally and to do much better work — to make a significant contribution — but I also do not want to be away from my children. One important thing my children have taught me is to appreciate each moment more, even the seemingly inconsequential ones. Ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会) is a concept connected to the way of tea—it's an idea I have mentioned several times here over the years. Roughly translated the phrase means "one time, one meeting" or "one encounter; one opportunity" or "every encounter is a treasure." It's an idea that reminds us of something all too obvious but often not recognized. That is, that no moment ever happens again, every moment is unique, and we should recognize and be only in this moment. It's an expression that reminds me to slowdown and appreciate each "meeting," especially with my children.

Slide
I used this slide above in a talk almost two years ago, when my daughter was 23-months old. In the photo, I was having my breakfast while trying to get through some email at home while my daughter, who I already fed, bathed and dressed, was playing nearby. While I was trying to get some work in and enjoy a cup of coffee, my daughter suddenly climbs up into my lap and takes my toast. Do'h! I could look at it as a kind of workus interruptus, but I learned to just go with the flow and enjoy these moments. Of course, this explains why my email-answering skills have suffered. And yet, that's life.

Comments

Mike Sporer

I suppose it's all about where we put our awareness, Garr. My daily mind-quieting has paid dividends over time and in subtle ways. It is mostly noticeable in retrospect.

Nice interview.

Home

Thank you for this opportunity to get to know you both. I know it is a commonly held belief but I wonder what the step beyond "having to grind it out" is.

Karen Hilo

Garr, I just wanted to tell you that I'm reading Presentationzen a second time and just thought to myself how packed it is with great thoughts and advice. Whether you consider yourself actively producing professionally or not at this time, your work is still impacting people like me.

I, too, want to make a significant contribution professionally, and I'm certain most people do.I pushed the pause button on my career quite suddenly when I was about 8 months pregnant with our first son. It was inexplicable because I was so career-focused. My drive just had an abrupt re-direction.

Our sons are graduating college this year, and during my time away from my career I got an MBA and gradually re-entered professional life. Your family will enrich your life and that will create a more robust legacy for you both personally and professionally.

Best wishes for you all. And, thank you.

Musaed

Hi Garr,

Thankyou for this very honest and forthright interview. In the fast pace of todays world we're focused very much on producing and to me (as a father of a 7 and 5 yr old) I feel guilty because I am still "on", despite having my kids around. I think it is important to admit the change in your life and have some compassion and understanding with ourselves, and still try and create and produce to the best of our ability.

Musaed

Ps: I love and recommend presentation zen wherever I go and it has helped me immeasurably in my work. Thanks

garr

Thank you all very much for the kind and supportive words.Really nice to hear your stories related to this issue as well. Thanks again! -g

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