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Owning Your Obstacles

Submitted by, Alyson Connolly, M.F.A

April 3, 2023


I’ve had bunions on my feet for years, thanks to my dear old Mom. Before Covid hit my doctor put me on the list to see a surgeon. I got the right one done smack dab in the middle of Covid. Since I had to be off my feet for 8 weeks, and we weren’t going anywhere, this was a perfect time to get it done. I was working virtually with clients, so I’d just grab my crutches, hobble downstairs to my office, and set up the Zoom call.

I got the left foot done on Dec. 15, 2022. This was a good time, too, since I’d wrapped up all my coaching and workshops, all my baking, buying of Christmas presents, and I could just relax.

Turns out my left foot is the dominant one and so I am brutal with crutches. Thank God for my knee scooter! And my husband! If we were going out, it was Christmas and there was much going on, I would drive my knee scooter to the back door and sit on a chair. My husband would put the scooter in the trunk, then carry me into the car. I was glad to have the knee scooter, so I could coach clients in person. However, moving it around was tricky. The first day I fell off it 3 times. Could be because I was stoned and just a tad uncoordinated. Dealing with this new way of walking, made me think of obstacles that you may face when giving a presentation.

There is no lectern! You’ve practiced with being able to place your notes on a lectern and there isn’t one in sight! Do you…

  • Throw down your notes and have a hissy fit?
  • Find a table and some books that can act as one
  • Hold the notes in your hand

This is something that you should practice beforehand, just in case. It is okay to have them in one hand and gesture in the other. In his book, Winning Body Language, Mark Bowden says that when we have our hands 90 degrees from our navel, we look and feel more genuine, plus it activates the parasympathetic nervous system which calms us down. Something you’re going to need, I’m sure!

If you have a remote in one hand for the Power Point then that can be tricky, but you can do it! Also, it may even slow down your speech which is a good thing!

Now on to Power Point. You’ve made beautiful slides with few words and many pictures, but alas somehow the Power Point doesn’t jive with your computer. Or there is no screen at all! You know your presentation inside out and can give it without the slides. Remember, your speech is the main course, and the slides are just a side dish.

You practiced knowing that there would be a mic in the room, but there isn’t one. This is tough, especially if this is a big room. In a big hall there should be one, but if there isn’t what can you do? Start by taking a few deep breaths. Have you ever told someone that is upset to do just that? Breathing deeply activates our parasympathetic nervous system so it calms us down.

Wake up your articulators. Your lips, tongue and jaw need to be working. Get into the washroom and try a few exercises:

  • Give your face a massage
  • Brr your lips
  • Clean peanut butter off your teeth with your tongue

When you are presenting remember to pronounce the ends of the words clearly. Those t’s and d’s sail through the air and help project your voice.

Smile a lot…not only does this wake up your face, but smiling releases the feel-good dopamine, serotonin and endorphins which calm your nervous system. This is something you will need if you don’t have a mike!

I am now able to walk on both feet, but I kinda miss my husband lifting me up!

Alyson Connolly, M.F.A


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