7 Ways I Rocked my Workshop for 100+ Women

7 Ways I Rocked my Workshop for 100+ Women last weekend

Sometime in 2016, my gorgeous bestie from high school mentioned something about a cool festival she’d heard of - The Seven Sisters. I checked it out and decided it looked like fun but was on too soon to organise the brood and the full catastrophe of things that would inevitably need to be organised with military precision to get me there. #TooHardBasket

A bit over a year later, said friend forwarded me a link she’d come across - the festival was about to close applications for presenters at 2018’s festival. Having just set myself a goal to speak at 50 gigs a year, I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring ‘just to have a go at the application process as a practice’.

I’d launched my podcast, The Recovering Perfectionist, a few months prior and there was a beautiful buzz around it. Given that the festival was purely for women, spirituality and opportunities to connect more deeply with community and self, I thought I’d focus on that.

Claire Barton - Seven Sisters Festival - Speaker

Yes, I’m a Professional Speaker

Have you ever spoken in front of 80-100 people? Kind of….

What are your credentials? I’m a really nice person and, quite frankly, I think I’m hilarious, sooooo…… please like me…?

What will be the format of your workshop? Words, words, words… (I have no idea)

I hit send and, rolling my eyes, thought ‘phr and that’ll be the last I hear of that’.

So of course, the email inviting me to hold a 90-minute workshop at the festival a few months later literally left me with a gapingly dropped jaw and disbelievingly re-reading the email again and again… I was late to collect my son (likely in shock and awe). I’d honestly thought that it was a bit of a joke and that they’d be looking solely for high-profile, professional, full-time, expert, speakers with all the bells and whistles and books and followers by the million.

Who did I think I was?

Imposter Syndrome, much?

Anywho. Here we were. I booked my ticket, my flights, coerced my bestie into coming with me and started strategising my getaway. There was a book plan in there somewhere too, but let’s sweep that under the carpet until a little later this year…

In classic Me Style, and given I really hadn’t considered that I’d actually get a gig so I hadn’t kept a record of what I’d submitted as the content and format, I finalised my slides at 10 o’clock the night before we drove from Melbourne to Mt Martha, to set up our tent and glamp-camp amidst the picturesque Scout Camp on the Mornington Peninsula. The book wasn’t ready, I had no hand-outs, only a few business cards left, hardly any voice due to a super-shit-ly-timed head cold, but “no one was coming to my workshop anyway”.

Claire Barton - Seven Sisters Festival Speaker

The Speaking Gig Arrived

Holy shit. There are, like, 80 people in this space… the “Life Skills Space”... ‘life’… ‘skills’…? No pressure. Just going to teach some life skills to all these people.

The first half hour, I had the usual sweaty palms and Rash Of Despair (that red thing I get when I’m nervous, hot, angry and any number of other extreme emotions.

And then, I was fine.

These women were exactly the right people to be speaking to. We were all there to connect, to share, to be vulnerable, to let go, to go with it and to speak our truths. And I’d already confessed to being a Recovering Perfectionist… practically a licence to never do anything perfectly ever again.

Yes, there were a few fumbles. Sometimes my tiny brain couldn’t find the right word and this uber-forgiving audience came up with them for me. I did what I could…

  1. I answered questions and held space for other to chip in.

  2. I said things I’ve said a million times before, and I said things I wasn’t expecting to.

  3. I laughed at my own jokes.

  4. I took off my shoes.

  5. I told them things about myself that I didn’t want them to know.

  6. I quoted lines from The Hangover. Twice.

  7. I surprised myself.

There was beautiful feedback, there were hugs, there were tears. There was a big ugly sigh of relief once it was over but thankfully I got to do it all again 48 hours later with an even bigger group.

It filled my cup and it pushed my buttons and it felt uncomfortable and scary. But I did it. And I’m so fucking proud of that.

Claire Barton - Seven Sisters Festival - Speaker

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Thanks to Mary Mimm and EVERYONE who made The 2018 Seven Sisters Festival so incredible! I can't wait to do it all again next year!

Claire Barton blog