Conference Presentations

The Challenge of Vulnerability

Delivered March 27, 2019
Presented by Krista Trofka

We are all invited to take the stage in some form in our lives, whether that be in an interview for work, a speech at a wedding, or simply asking a question in a business meeting or classroom setting. We all have ideas, questions or explorations which we hold back from sharing because our brains are hardwired to prioritize acceptance by our peers and avoid rejection and ridicule. Sometimes, this keeps us safe—but more often than not—it keeps us from truly stepping into a life of opportunity.

The first major theme of the presentation is the psychology of fear. What makes so many of our hands shake, our body’s fidget and our minds forget our words once so perfectly rehearsed? It is an evolutionary response, developed eons ago, designed to protect us. Public speaking asks us to do the one thing we are hard-wired not to do – step outside of the tribe and ask to be invited back in. As relatively weak and slow planetary beings, we survived only in community. Public speaking is the most vulnerable and scary thing that we can do.

We will explore the role of this response and how it “shows up” for us in our modern-day world and body and four scientifically-proven ways to shift out of fear and into action using both science and story to address the “hack”.

The second major presentation theme is the role of nonverbal communication. Research shows that over 93% of communication is nonverbal, demonstrating that our brains are wired to prioritize nonverbal over verbal communication. But as presenters, we focus on what we say – rather than how we say it.

We engage in fun-partner work to learn how our brains are specifically attuned to body language – and the signals that we are unintentionally demonstrating while speaking from a place of fear or anxiety.

The presentation is concluded with a challenge: to invite each audience member to make one commitment to themselves to lean in towards one area of fear in their life, whether that’s practicing a strategy at home or stepping onto the stage to share their message with the world.