1Aug

3 Fears that Keep You Off The Stage

By Sue Ludwig

You might be sitting there wondering, “Is this the year?”

That’s what a few of the speakers and poster presenters at NANT 7 were thinking last year at this time. They had never spoken at the national level, but had been educating parents, NICU staff and fellow therapists for years, decades even. (And a few of them were doctoral students. Brave doctoral students, no? And they did so well.)

Last year at this time, each of these speakers decided to take a leap and submitted to speak or present a poster. After all, they were doing great work that could help other units. And there they were this past April, speaking on stage or in poster sessions to an international audience.

Decisions like this can open doors for you that you can’t even imagine. My speaking career began simply because I said YES to our medical director when asked to present at a regional conference. I was scared to death and shaking when I got on stage. I did it anyway.

(This was not like me. I was not a risk-taker. I was afraid of failing, not knowing enough.  Not knowing EVERYTHING. But I’ve learned that taking imperfect action is a pretty fun way to live.)

Some of you reading this right now have the same fears or perhaps don’t even see yourself as a possible contributor. Consider this: we need you. Our specialty needs you and your unique perspective.

In the meantime, let’s banish the 3 fears that keep you off the stage:

1) PERCEIVED AS FRAUD: No one would want to hear me speak. I’m no expert. I don’t know enough. (Even though you have over 10 or 20 years of experience? No one knows everything. What DO you know?)

2) COMPARISON: My project/research/speaking ability isn’t as compelling as what I experienced at previous NANT Conferences. (Subjective statement.) And my abstract probably won’t be accepted. (Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But there’s a 100% chance it won’t if we never see it.)

Or my personal favorite:

3) WAITING FOR UTOPIA: I’ll submit next year, when my life is in order and everything is perfect. (Universal assumption that there will come a time when your calendar is blank and you can finally accomplish all those things you wanted to do someday.)

This is what I know: therapists want to hear from you (regardless of your discipline) if you’re doing great work that benefits babies in the NICU. Research, quality improvement, collaborative efforts to change culture or practice – your contributions allow us to provide intensive caring for patients, families and colleagues.

There is no one like you on the whole planet. No one can teach us just like you can!

Is this the year?

[NANT 8 theme and Call for Abstracts coming soon – we can’t wait to hear from you!]

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