What do you say when you’re invited to speak at an event, appear on a podcast or be interviewed live somewhere?
An immediate ‘yes!’, a pause for thought, or a straight ‘no way!’?
Making yourself visible in public can be an alarming idea
From an evolutionary point of view, standing up and making yourself vulnerable in front of unknown people is dangerous. It’s not surprising that it’s something we have to learn.
This comes up regularly with my clients. And it’s a fear that comes up even with experienced speakers, when they have the chance to do something for the first time, or at a higher level than they’re used to.
Most anxieties about appearing in public are one of three kinds:
- You’re self-conscious about something to do with your appearance or voice, and think that you’ll be judged negatively in some way on it
- You don’t believe that you can add to your work by talking about it, because you’re not at ease putting it into words
- You’re worried that you won’t be be able to say anything interesting, so you look foolish
If you’re invisible, you can’t be noticed
That might be obvious. But a lot of people don’t want to admit it. To get your work noticed, it’s almost essential to have a public voice and profile.
Of course there are people who aren’t at all visible – Banksy, for instance – but it makes your life a whole lot harder. He, or she, has done it by very deliberately putting work in public spaces, with all the subterfuge that involves. And how many other street artists are out there trying to be Banksy?
Making yourself visible can feel like losing control. In fact, it’s about choosing what you want to do. You can apply for a prime-time TV talent show. You can volunteer to present your team’s work at the next board meeting. You can set up a blog and commit to writing regularly.
But the essential thing is this: you make your voice public in some way.
That’s why my conversation with artist Amrit Singh this week on The Creative Life Show is such a must-listen. It’s one of the most joyful, life-enhancing conversations I’ve had on the show so far.
How to get 3 million viewers and still create with joy, with artist Amrit Singh
Amrit was working in a day job as a designer when a friend introduced him to the live-streaming app Periscope. In just 2 years he’s attracted over 3 million viewers watching his live art and inspiration sessions. It’s led to his own thriving art business, an international career as a speaker, two books and big-name clients queuing up to book him.
But behind all that there’s a story of self-doubt and lack of confidence. It took Amrit a year to show his own face or his own artwork on Periscope, and he wasn’t prepared for the response either time. Appearing on camera himself led to a shocking amount of racism and abuse, but led to his realisation about what he could do in the world. And when he finally had the courage to show his own, very personal, art, he found his life transformed within weeks.
Back to you.
It’s ok to pause before making yourself visible
When you make yourself vulnerable in front of strangers, it will feel uncomfortable. But those strangers can quickly become the community and support system that allows you to do things you never dreamed of.
Here’s a brilliant quote from Amrit, about what keeps him going, building a community that has allowed him to change everything about his life.
‘Never think that your problem is just yours. There are thousands of people out there with the same challenge.’
Remember that no matter who you are, how you look, or where you’re from, you do work that someone else will value.