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Why not step out of your comfort zone & dive into public speaking?

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Aug 7th 2014 - By Gillian Shippen, Nurse Manager, Director Pets Need A Life Too

I recently stepped out of my comfort zone, diving head first into the speaker world by giving a presentation on environmental enrichment at the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANCVS) Vet Science Week.

Well I could hardly say forcing myself to have a few days at the Gold Coast whilst Adelaide was in the middle of a vicious cold and stormy snap, stepping outside my comfort zone – however, I am not one for public speaking, or so I thought!

As a Veterinary Nurse, can you imagine how scary it was to be discussing my behavioural topic to a room full of Veterinarians?

I do know I stuffed up, made some errors and tended to stray from a neatly prepared script in front of me that was meant to coincide with and elaborate on my PowerPoint presentation slides; but as I started to get into the groove, I felt somewhat comfortable and dare I say, was almost beginning to enjoy myself. Apparently that is how it came across too, because a number of people came to me afterwards and said I looked like I was enjoying myself, two of those people are well respected in their fields and whom I consider mentors and have a huge amount of respect for.

What was the secret to my success?

I had tried public speaking before, hated it and couldn’t wait to finish what I was speaking about. The key on this occasion was that I was speaking about a topic I love, was confident about and well, basically I knew my stuff!

I also came to the realisation whilst sitting in the audience during the rest of the conference that we are often hearing & seeing the same speakers all the time. Now on the one hand this is good because they are generally really great speakers and most people want to hear from them, but it is also bad because it also means we are only hearing from one lot of speakers.  It may also be the case that there poor guys might actually want to not speak for a change and might actually like to hear interesting presentations from others.

I have always been able to put pen to paper and write reasonably good articles, hey I have even self published a book ('Pets Need A Life Too…a guide to enriching the life of your pet – series one: Dogs' I know a bit of a mouth full) which has received some very complimentary reviews both in Australia and internationally.  I also believe I can speak well one--on-one or with a small audience, but the thought of public speaking to a larger audience was just not my cup of tea.

I will say this though – I am glad I did it and am now considering doing more!

My advice to all veterinary nurses, veterinarians, practice managers and owners out there?  Just dive in!  I really belive if you think you have something to contribute then put in an abstract to the organisers of conferences as this seems to be a good place to start. You might consider a presentation on a case that you found really interesting, as your audience might find it equally as interesting.

If it is a topic you are passionate about you might find, just like I did, that you actually enjoy it!

Editors note: Vetanswers is also always looking to publish Guest Blog Posts - you don't have to be an expert you just have to have an opinion!  For more information you can click here: Guidelines for Guest Bloggers

The VNCA is also calling for speakers for the VNCA 21st Anniversary Conference in Melbourne 2015

Cat Comfort Zone Image Source:

Gillian Shippen is not only a Nurse Manager, but has also written a book: 'Pets Need a Life Too - A Guide to Enriching the Life of Your Pet - Series One: Dogs' AND she runs her online website 'Pets Need a Life Too' where she sells a range of enrichment toys for pets.

Gillian is also currently studying 'Veterinary Behaviour Medicine' at CVE Sydney with Dr Kersti Seksel.

Click here to visit the 'Pets Need A Life Too' Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory



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