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Speak to Groups of People?? Never! May 21, 2017

Posted by mariemanthey in Creative Health Care Management, Inspiration, Manthey Life Mosaic, Nursing Salons, Professional Practice.
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Honestly, that’s how I felt in the early years of my career! The thought of speaking publicly was a nightmare.

As a student, I made a choice between the two options for my Master’s Degree based partly on which one involved less public speaking!

I was sure that speaking to large groups of people was not and would never be necessary for me – it is not a part of Nursing – and it terrified me.

I was physically affected – I’m not exaggerating – every time I had to do it for some reason.

I had nausea, I had knock-knees, I had so much static in my head that I could hardly hear my own thoughts. Every time I did it I felt like I had failed miserably, and no matter what, I would never do it again.

However, life went a different way for me.

I was part of the team that created Primary Nursing, and other people wanted to know about that process. There were two ways to communicate about it – speaking and writing. Writing took forever! The two articles we wrote in 1970 just took a really long time to put together, edit, format, get references, all of that. Then we did another article in 1973 – again, it just took a really long time. I was Chief Nurse at first one hospital and then another, and my available time was just very limited – it was really hard to fit in time for writing.

Much as I hated speaking, it was a way to deliver the information that I wanted others to know, in real time, most efficiently.

So for those initial five years of talking about Primary Nursing, it was excruciating every time. Every time I had knock knees, nausea, static in my head, the physical costs were huge. I would actually feel sick to my stomach just looking at my calendar and seeing a speaking date written on it. But I just had to go out there and do it anyway, because the importance of the message demanded it.

For me, getting up and speaking was a much more effective way to get the word out, than writing. People were curious and I wanted to let them know about Primary Nursing and its benefits for the nurse-patient relationship.  The effect Primary Nursing had on the patient’s experience – that’s what was so important. My passion about that essence of Nursing just saw no boundaries.

So, I made myself learn how to do public speaking, even though for most of the first five years, nothing got better. It was just as horrible, just as debilitating, just as uncomfortable every time as it always had been, for years on end.

Years later, little by little, it started to get better. I began to get some sense of self-confidence about it, to the point where I was actually able to look at  a speaking date on the calendar and not get terrible anxiety about it.

After that, I began slowly to not only be comfortable speaking, but to enjoy it. I began to be able to take in the visual and auditory feedback of the crowd and use that information to fine-tune my delivery. I learned how to be present with my message, and also present with the people I was delivering the message to.

And for these decades since then, speaking has been a huge positive for me. It’s still all about getting the message out – about Relationship-Based Care and other ways to enhance the nurse-patient relationship – in the best way possible.

The power of conversation is really what it all comes back to. I am engaging in a one-way conversation when I speak to audiences. I very much want for the audience to engage as well though, always. That’s why I like to speak within a schedule that allows for break-out sessions. I want folks listening to me to be able to speak with and listen to each other and me as well, and to have their experiences also be part of what is shared.

Nursing salons are another extension of that important need to connect – to hear each other and share each others’ experience.

Conversations Change People, People Change the World! – Margaret Wheatley

 

Comments»

1. Heidi - May 21, 2017

Ever so glad you took the plunge and share your message with the world! We (nurses) are all the better because of you and your voice!

mariemanthey - May 21, 2017

Thanks Heidi! It’s always great to hear from you.
MM/cs


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