I Opened the Presentation by Threatening to Puke on the VIPs…

It might not be a good sign when you open a presentation by threatening to puke on the VIPs in the front rows of the audience… those seats they sell as “premium” might be better named “splash zone”…

A few weeks ago I flew to Orlando, Florida to speak at an event called Fight the Forces of Evil.

It was a larger audience than I’d been in front of before, and while I love training, I’m still getting used to sharing personal stories in front of a crowd.


Throughout the weekend, I was reminded of some really important lessons that I wanted to share with you because they really apply to any time in life that you’re stepping up to play a bigger game.

1. Trust that you know your area of expertise.

The first day I arrived, I was on almost no sleep after flying all night (I had been at another event on the West Coast I was traveling from overnight), in a t-shirt and jeans, and the iPas team asked me to go on stage at their breakout with a few hundred people… I wasn’t prepared… I said yes anyway and went on. Was I perfect? No, but I didn’t crash and burn either.

Their audience was excited and I knew my material well enough to get on and share.

I had to trust that if I just shared what I was passionate and excited about, that would work. It did.  They were excited, too!

2. Just be honest and allow people support you.

2,000 in the room plus 1,000 on livestream was the largest audience I’d ever been in front of.

I. Was. Terrified.

So I got on stage and told them that.

I said I knew the CEO had different ideas but the audience and I would measure success by whether I managed not to fall off my shoes, fall off the stage, or throw up on the first row of the audience (told them I know they were told VIP seating was the best, but that really it just meant they were in the splash zone).

And yes, this is somewhere immortalized on video, along with me freaking out when I saw myself on the giant screens on either side of me… A “mini me” I’m all for.  A “giant me” on the other hand – that’s just not something the world needs!

A coach once told me that I had to remember, any time I speak, the audience WANTS me to succeed!

If you’re speaking, or training, anything that involves others, remember that.  They are on your side!  They want you to succeed.  They want to learn.  They do not want to see the people on stage fail.  They’re on our side.

I wore my name badge on stage when I spoke the second time – intentionally – even though I’m quite aware it’s not the “professional” thing to do.

I’m just me. I have more in common with the audience than I do the speakers.

I was there to inspire them, to help them realize that if I can do it ANY one of them can.

3. Focus on your why.


I wasn’t on stage sharing my story for me. I’d like to keep it to myself. I’ve done stupid things and made decisions I’m not proud of.

I was sharing because I want people around me to know (a) you can do anything you decide to do, and (b) never ever ever judge someone else’s potential based on what you see right now.

To anyone looking at me 15 or 20 years ago… I had no potential. I had no college education or skills or talents that would allow me to succeed at anything big in life.  And I definitely didn’t have the courage.

I allowed people who judged me based on their own view of the world, to put me in a box that crushed my spirit and caused me to be afraid to play any bigger.

All I needed was one person to believe in me.

And at every level of breakthrough I’ve had in life, it’s been because one person (different people at different points but it still only took one at a time) dared to believe in me.

If my getting on stage could lead to even a few people in that audience either making the next decision they needed to make to play bigger and go after things in their own lives knowing they could make it happen, or standing up to be that person who’d believe in someone else, how could I not?

How dare I let fear hold me back?

4. Keep saying YES.

After I came off stage, they asked me to come back for a Q&A panel at the end of the day. I was likely the only person on stage who hadn’t already made close to a million dollars in network marketing.

I said yes anyway and made the decision that I was, at some point, going to speak up and answer a question if it killed me. I might not be a super star network marketer, but I’ve got a lot of experience and knowledge to share around what works in blogging and content marketing online that would add a different perspective to the panel.  And different can be valuable.

Did I feel like I belonged on that panel? No. So why go on?

Because I was there to show that audience one thing…

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  1. Awesome Michelle…

    And you did GREAT during that speech.

    Lesson for me:
    The fear is ALL in our heads most of the time!

    1. Thanks Mars… I wouldn’t have been on that stage without your encouragement and confidence in me.

      While fear might be mostly all in our heads, I am pretty sure it’s also in my stomach. Ha ha! :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 21 Totally Free, Legal Image Sources for BloggersMy Profile

  2. I beg to differ with this part: “To anyone looking at me 10 years ago… I had no potential. I had no college education or skills or talents that would allow me to succeed at anything big in life.” Pleased to say I saw the potential. You were already smart and highly skilled when I hired you several years earlier than that.

    “And I definitely didn’t have the courage.” That part is true. But now you do. And now you’ve spoken to a larger audience than I ever have. I don’t think I’d be scared of it, but I would still have a few Wow! moments :-).

    1. I stand corrected, Shel! I should have written 15 or 20 years (but oh how I hate to acknowledge I’m that OLD). ;) And I will edit that. :)

      YOU are one of those people who believed in me. Thank you. I know I’ve shared with you privately but your willingness to give me a chance and allow me to learn had a huge impact on my life and I am so thankful for that.

  3. You never cease to amaze me. Despite your fears, you plunge forward and take on the world! You’re blossoming in so many ways and it’s beautiful to watch. You are an inspiration girlfriend! Keep on, keepin’ on.
    Debra Jason recently posted… Remember the opera “AIDA” when copywriting to generate leadsMy Profile

    1. I’m not sure about plunging forward, but I’m cautiously allowing others to push me forward with a little less resistance! ;)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 21 Totally Free, Legal Image Sources for BloggersMy Profile

  4. Bravo Michelle! You are so inspiring.

    1. Carolin!!! How are you? Feels like it’s been forever. We need to connect, lady. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 103 Creative Business Blog Post Idea Starters (Plus 50 Places to Find Inspiration)My Profile

  5. Michelle, it’s so good to see your post in my inbox today. :) I love the new look! It still amazes me that YOU get nervous when speaking. You have shaped me over the years in my business in more ways than you will ever know. I look forward to seeing what you have coming next!

    1. Thanks! LaunchMen created the look for me – we’re still tweakin’ things but I love it so far.

      Yes… incredibly so. People told me it would go away. I might have to smack those people at some point cause it didn’t go away. lol But I have to admit, I do get a *little* bit excited now about it, so it’s a mix instead of JUST nervousness. :D

      And hey I’m with you… can’t wait to see what’s next for us BOTH. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 21 Totally Free, Legal Image Sources for BloggersMy Profile

  6. Thanks for sharing that, Michelle! You are amazing and someone I really admire. You embody the name of that book Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway! Bravo!!

    1. Hey Ginny, I know you understand these feelings… we’ve been through some different but similar craziness on the entrepreneurial journey. I admire your resilience and courage! :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 103 Creative Business Blog Post Idea Starters (Plus 50 Places to Find Inspiration)My Profile

  7. What a wonderful post. I love how you are so open and honest and share from your heart. You are an amazing woman and I love watching you bloom. You are one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to the internet, blogging and marketing and I’m glad that you are in the world sharing what you know.
    Julia Neiman recently posted… Caine’s Arcade Part 2 – Sharing the Joy of ImaginationMy Profile

  8. I’m inspired, Michelle (again)! You are a shining example for high school seniors. Every year I tell them that they may not be able to make the butterflies in their stomach go away, yet they can make the leap into the next big step in life anyway. I will share this story with them to really emphasize the point. Awesome!
    Donovan Dreyer recently posted… The 3 Massive Mistakes Teen Boys Make That Shut the Door to College Upon ThemselvesMy Profile

  9. I’m soooo proud of you! Not only did you look fabulous in that outfit, but your message of hope and inspiration touched thousands!

  10. Loved the honesty, openess and ‘this is who I am’ post. So inspiring Michelle and so wonderful to see you walk your talk and be such a success but also aware that the journey continues.

  11. A great piece Michelle. I once saw a girl, who worked for me, puke into a wastepaper bin during a presentation. I was hoping she would carry on after puking, but she made a dash for the powder room. Bless.
    Jack Collier recently posted… Oh No, What Have I Done?My Profile

  12. Love love love that you stood up anyway. Said the hell with it and lord knows I’m rolling out laughing about you telling the VIPs you might puke on them. Oh My God.

    Your story…with all the missteps, OMGs, WTHs and the rest helped more than a few in that huge audience if I don’t miss my bet!

    Way to go!

    Laugh lots, Love more!
    MamaRed recently posted… Repurpose Content To Build Your Business More QuicklyMy Profile

  13. Thanks for the reminder to believe I can belong where I want to belong. I really needed this today. I’m still finding my way in the blog/biz world but I know I’m so much better today than 5 years ago.

  14. Congratulations on being asked to speak at the event. I know the network market you must be referring to, and that really is quite an accomplishment. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I quite enjoyed reading your post and could imagine myself there because I’ve been to those events myself. All the best! But wait … there’s more!
    Jeanne Melanson recently posted… 5 Health Care Tips For Your German ShepherdMy Profile

  15. Absolutely fabulous Michele!

    It certainly sounds like you hit it out of the park as usual!

    And I’m sure the audience felt like they got more than their money’s worth from you!

    And as far you belonging on any particular panel or not; you’ve evolved from struggling online marketer to successful online marketer/coach/mentor!

    So it’s obvious you belong wherever you decide to share your hard fought knowledge, experience and skill!

    Thanks for being such a great leader and continuously showing us what’s possible!
    Mark recently posted… Three Can’t Miss Signs That You’ve Probably Selected A Highly Profitable Niche Market!My Profile

  16. Hey Michelle,
    Just found your blog. You write amazingly! It was a pleasure to read. Thanks a lot for the advices in this blogpost. I will put you in my favorites.
    Cheers from the Netherlands!
    Joost recently posted… Foto inspiratie: de witte zandduinen van West AustraliëMy Profile

  17. Hey Michell!

    I really appreciate as what are you told about. It really motivated me.
    Keep going on michell and Thanks for sharing this post.

    Now you are my inspirational blogger. I really learnt many things from you.

    Deepika Sharma recently posted… Happy Valentine’s Day Quotes 2015 in EnglishMy Profile

  18. Great read, Michelle. Very inspirational and aspirational! I’ve been in front of large audiences of 2000+ before. I find it quite exhilirating. However, I think seeing a big image of myself on a big screen would kinda freak me out!
    Jae recently posted… Best Tweetable Inspirational QuotesMy Profile

  19. I’m actually putting together my first Master Class course on blogging, to be delivered either just before Xmas 2014 or early next year, 2015. I have to say that a lot of what I’ve learned about blogging & content has come from following you. So a BIIIGGG thank you to you. You’re a real inspiration to me and I aspire to be doing what you do some day soon. :)
    Jae recently posted… 6 Disempowering Beliefs That Will Kill Your Business – And Your Life!My Profile

  20. A Great Article. I love the sentence “You can choose to belong anywhere your brave enough to go” I have been following you for a couple of years or a little more. Up until about 9 months ago, I would use a Teckie type person to fix my problems, add new programs to my website and format my books. I can no longer afford to do that. I am using what you and others have taught me and venturing into the unknown. It’s tough but I’m progress. Thank you so much for all your help over the years.
    Chef William Chaney recently posted… 7 Tips for Surviving Holiday GatheringsMy Profile

  21. You were one of the best parts of the weekend! I love kalatu!
    Ben recently posted… 5 Entertaining Holiday Vacations QuotesMy Profile

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