An #upfront conversation with Mary Jane Boholst

Mary Jane was part of the very first time I tried being #upfront. Mary Jane leads her own business, Conscious Cocoon, dedicated to supporting introverts with ideas so #upfront was appealing to her from day one! Everyone in this group was comfortable speaking and the conference organiser, Matt, was super flexible so Mary spoke at the end of my talk. Here’s what she has to say about her experience…

I hadn’t met Lauren before taking part and we spoke only two days before to talk about what was going to happen. I was nervous about being on stage in front of so many people, it’s wasn’t usual for me to be in front of 100 or more. I’ve been working on my speaking confidence over the last few years and have made some progress speaking, and speaking to 100+ people was an edge for me.

I started my business a few years ago with much less confidence and being a typical IT geek, kind of shy and introverted and a lot more comfortable behind a computer screen than standing on a stage!

“Growing my business has been the motivation I needed to put myself in front of more people, but I knew I had an edge when it came to larger groups and also knew that if I was going to be an example for other introverts and techies then I needed to get out there and be seen by more people.”

Waiting to get on stage was nerve-wracking, watching the previous speakers get up and deliver polished talks with sleekly designed slides brought up the loud voice of my inner critic asking me who am I to stand up in front of this group of professionals? What do I know?

It helped that I wasn’t alone and that Lauren was there. Waiting for the time to speak I found I got somewhat used to being on the stage with an audience and had time to scope out some familiar faces!

When it came time to say something. I opened my mouth and shared something completely different to what I thought, but was OK with that. I shared my thoughts on #upfront and what it means to me to 100 people, and it wasn’t as bad as my inner critic was telling me! I survived! It was fun and I met some wonderful ladies too!

I thought I was going to talk more about being a woman in a male-dominated industry and how we, as women need to speak up more, but instead I ended up talking about my desire to walk my talk and be an example for other people who find public speaking daunting especially my fellow introverts and techies!

Taking part in upfront has made it much more fun and easy for me to speak to bigger groups of people.