Why Every Public Speaking Outing Should be Like Skiing Down the Side of a Mountain

A view from the bottom in Fernie, BC!
Earlier this year, I did something I had not done before-- I skied down a western Canadian mountain in Fernie, BC for the first time in my life. I was an "advanced beginner" skier in Ontario, but comparing the ski hills in Ontario to the beautiful mountains of BC is like comparing apples to oranges... there really is no comparison. Upon riding my first ski lift in BC, I realized that all my experience and what I thought was "training" in Ontario really didn't prepare me for what lie ahead. Skiing down the mountains in BC was going to be a bigger task than I had expected. The conditions were different: the powder was deeper, the vertical was steeper, the runs were longer, and most importantly-- the way the mountains made me feel in BC were very different than how I felt skiing in Ontario.  I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to ski in Ontario the same way now that I have conquered the allure of the mountains where “real” skiing takes place.

It dawned on me while I was skiing in BC that there is a certain feeling that I got when I was skiing on the mountain for the first time that compares to the same feeling you get when you are about to go on stage for a public speaking engagement. Where this feeling became most apparent was when I was about to tackle my biggest personal achievement to date-- ski down the highest peak at Fernie-- more than 3,500 ft vertical. You could say I was "persuaded" by my peers to go down or maybe foolish me tricked myself into believing I could do it. As I passed the "no easy way down sign" at the foot of the mountain and approached the top of the 3,500 ft peak, I looked on from atop the mountain and a sense of excitement, nervousness, and anxiousness came over me. The task that lie ahead (or well in this case, down) seemed so scary, yet so exciting. 

I took a few minutes to take it all in and compose my thoughts mentally and get readyphysically. I began when I was ready....eased my way down, slow and steady, calm and composed, and thankfully, I made my way down the mountain safe and sound! 

And by the time I had got to the bottom, all I wanted to do was do it all over again! But I figured, I might as well go out on top and say I did it once than ruin the entire experience going down a second time and maybe fall. One time down a mountain of that size and scale was just fine by me for my first mountain skiing experience. 

Stay tuned for part 2 on my BC skiing adventure where I will share my lessons learned from 3,500 feet above!