Stiff Upper Lip: Dealing with Disappointment

Yesterday I spoke at Blog World Expo on Avoiding Mistakes in Blog Design. I wrote about my excitement and nerves while on the plane to LA.  I love speaking and teaching.  Actually, I wanted to be a teacher.  I was not nervous about public speaking; that part is exciting.  I wrote that I was nervous about 2 things:  losing my voice and having no audience.

Stiff Upper Lip

Guess what?  The night before I lost my voice.  I went to bed at 8 pm and woke up with a mere whisper.  I drank tea and tried to whisper.  By the time my session came I had a choice between the voice of a baby chipmunk or a deranged Kathleen Turner.   This was my first disappointment.  I have a strong speaking voice and I love to use a lot of vocal expression when I teach.  This session was videotaped so I will be able to hear my strange voice.  Yippee.

You know what?  At least my voice came.  I used what I had and I asked for help from Melanie when I needed it because I was literally choking on my own throat.  We knew our stuff and we shared it.  And you know what…we are good presenters.  We did our job well, even with my husky chipmunk at the mic.

We shared our presentation.  To 6 people.  This was my other fear.  That no one would come.  This, for me, brought the huge weight of disappointment down.  It made me feel small and useless and most of all, embarrassed.  I don’t know why so few cared about our awesome presentation on design with tons of useful tips, but man it broke my hard working heart.  I totally appreciate each and every person who came.  Thank you!

Well, we still gave our presentation and answered the few questions and after an hour, it was over.  My first speaking gig at a blog conference did not go at all as I hoped.

I left the conference center to call my husband thinking I would cry.  Yeah, I cry, sue me.  I started talking and he felt so bad for me and then I found my stiff upper lip.

Now I am sitting on a plane on my way back to Charlotte and I decided to share not only my story (I was almost too embarrassed) but also the lesson in it.

How can we deal with this kind of disappointment?  It happens all the time. We work hard on something, whether personally or professionally, and the result does not go as planned.  You know what?  Things happen.

Tips for Dealing with Disappointment

First, evaluate the situation.

Did you do everything you needed to do?

No:  Sometimes the answer will be no and you can figure out how to do better the next time.  Did you not leave enough time?  Did you over extend yourself?  Did you not give 100% because the project was not a big priority to you?  This has now become a learning experience.  Use it to your advantage and know that you will be better in the future.

Yes:  Most of the time disappointment is the hardest when something we really care about goes sideways.  In these cases I find that if anything, we have over prepared.  We are ready to rock a presentation, a social engagement, a party…anything.  Because we care so much we did everything we could.

We (Melanie and I) prepared for our session.  We worked on our presentation, we researched great resources and we promoted our session.  Still, it was a room meant for a hundred with only a few chairs filled.  Each of those people totally rocks, by the way!  We can be proud of what we did.

In this case, when there was no more you could do, you have to be able to be proud of yourself for what you accomplished and what you learned in the process and again, use it as a learning experience.

Can you identify the problem?

This is not about finding a scapegoat.  This is giving your situation an honest evaluation so you will be able to put it behind you.  It is worth it and may make the next situation better.  Maybe there is someone you should follow up with or maybe you just need this for yourself.

I don’t know what to say about my situation other than that we presented right after lunch in a huge expo center as the first panel in the first year of Type A Parent at Blog World.  I think that people weren’t sure these tracks would apply to them if they are not a parent blogger.  While they would be wrong, that is neither here nor there.  There were something like 11 other sessions going on at the same time.  Next to our room was a session on monetization.  Yep, making money.  Duh…people go to that.  Finally, for some reason people don’t really think blog design is that important or they think their blog is just fine.  I can tell you that most blogs need a regular shine and an annual cleaning and that design is extremely important. Especially if you want to make money.  I am confident that this session would be gang busters in a lot of places.

Second, find the silver lining.

I know I sound like your mom, but hey, I am a mom now.  Moms are smart cookies.  As I said above, did you learn something?  Was the experience still worthwhile?  Did you make a new friend?  Did you see something new?

I did all of these things this weekend.  I learned a lot about blogging and social media from the conference and I learned a lot about myself from this situation.  I am strong.  The experience was wonderful despite my vocal distress.  I still wish I was less shy, but I am not going to beat myself up.  I made new friends.  I now totally adore Melanie and I found some other amazing people too! I saw downtown LA and my first non-parenting blog conference.  Boy was it different. I spoke at my first blog conference!  Yay! Downtown LA was super awesome and I really hope to go back sometime and see some sights and hit the beach!

There is more than one side to every story and your situation is probably no different.  So maybe the main event wasn’t what it was cracked up to be but the peripheral stuff rocked.  Focus on that.

Third, allow your feelings.  They are real.

Disappointment is natural.  It is fine to feel this way.  Let yourself be disappointed, just don’t let yourself wallow in it.  That will keep you down a lot longer!

I am disappointed, sure.  I wanted to report amazing success to you, my readers!  It’s okay though.  You just wait.  Next time!

Fourth, Look forward, not backward.

I know we did well speaking and I am already planning which other conferences I can submit a speaker proposal to.  I am less nervous about submitting than I was before and I am ready to roll!  This conference is over now.  I don’t need to let it weigh me down.  I was also thinking of offering a local workshop or webinar on blog design for people (business or personal blogs) who want the information but will not be at a blog conference anytime soon.  See, I am letting go to let new and positive ideas in.  Try it.  It really helps.

Finally, give yourself a little treat.

This is not a pity party, or maybe it is.  It doesn’t matter really.  Grab a bowl of ice cream or a heap of that Halloween candy or a really full glass of wine and indulge yourself.  Take a bubble bath. Catch a movie.  Just because everything out there did not go as you hoped does not mean everything in your own space can’t be just as you like it for at least a little while.

Share Your Tips!

I am feeling a million times better today as I move away from the disappointment (both physically and emotionally) and I hope you are able to move on from some of the disappointing situation in your life.  If you have any other great tips please share them in the comments!

Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • With your voice being what it was, maybe the smaller crowd was a blessing in disguise! Regardless, I completely understand. It’s awful to have no one (or a tiny, tiny group) show up for a session. As for attendance, you’ll probably never know what happened with attendance, but you might ask some social media friends for their thoughts on the title/description. Maybe they’ll have tips for how to make it sound sexier. I also think that one issue with design is that people often farm it out to someone else. I think you should be proud of yourself for not only taking the risk in terms of doing a presentation, but for being honest about how it went on your blog. Kudos to you!
    Christy recently posted… NaBloPoMo 2011, the Plague and SnowtoberMy Profile

    • Brittany says:

      Thanks. I was miked so I think I was totally hearable and I did not choose the name of my session. I think the names were chosen to highlight the parent track at the conference and it seems that people shied away from some with this title. Perhaps they did not feel it would work with their blog. We tied the description to good looks and monetization but there was no directory that included session descriptions in hard copy form. Just the title. I think this was a problem. It was very hard to know if you wanted to go to a session or not! I will be pitching this to other conferences. Without the funds for a VERY professional blog designer many of these mistakes are still made while a blogger is spending money every day. Many of the mistakes we cover also have to do with what a blogger does after the design or theme is complete.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  • I think it was awesome that you pulled off your talk, even with no voice. So sorry the turnout was poor, but I love that you turned it around into a positive learning experience.

    If I was at a conference and saw a talk for blog design, I’d totally attend. Just sayin’ 🙂
    Alison recently posted… A World of DifferenceMy Profile

    • Brittany says:

      Thank you! I would love to see you at a conference sometime but I know you are so very far away. Maybe a skype chat! I am happy to give you any advice anytime my sweet friend!

  • angela says:

    I think it’s so hard to choose conference session based on titles alone, so that is tough! I haven’t been to a blog conference yet, but I used to teach and attended several conferences as a teacher. I tried to print out and lug around the descriptions, because the titles were so vague and often didn’t explain exactly what the session was about.

    I would (embarrassingly) probably skip a session with a certain title about blog design, because I might be intimidated. However, after reading your description, I can see that the session would be especially helpful for people like me!

    I love that you’ve turned it around into a positive experience and maybe one day I’ll get to see you, with your real voice 🙂

    • Brittany says:

      I agree. I had trouble choosing sessions because while titles are catchy, I wanted to read what was going to be the meat of the discussion.

      And yes, blog design is not for designers alone. One the design is done you, the blogger, have a LOT of decisions to make for what you include and don’t include and where. I want to teach a few simple tutorials on changing headers, sidebars and such so people don’t feel stuck!

      I would love to see you one day and I hope that I get my real voice back. It remains almost nothing. Ugh.

  • I really love how you turned this around. That would be tough…and I can see how a session right after lunch would be skipped by people so they can continue networking..etc.

    I am sure you rocked it. xoxo
    tracy recently posted… A Dead Donut Anniversary and Old Princess ProofMy Profile

  • Jess says:

    Just a quick note from the planning side of the conference world. As you said, the session was videotaped. When taping became prominent in conferences, attendance of sessions started to decline, especially at conferences such as Blog world, which offer a virtual floor pass – you can get the whole show online, allowing you to focus on meetings and networking rather than session attendance. Also, from a quick glance at the agenda, they really tried to jam a ton of sessions into a very short period of time, more than the (planning) industry standard. So use it for the benefits – the ones you’ve mentioned, the learning experience, the video you’ll be able to have for your CV, etc etc. Hope your voice comes back soon and congrats on everything you’ve done, personally and with the blog. You are a rockstar.

  • Lisa says:

    What a great way to use this experience to your advantage. You are right, disappointments come in life, that’s how we can recognise the thrill when they go well! I remember my very first craft show, I’d planned carefully, worked for hours on boosting my stock, had giveaways, promoted high and low. Over 2 days we sold just $120 worth of stock. I was gutted. And embarrassed and felt like throwing the whole thing in. But then I analysed the market, the timing, the choice of location ( and the dingy little, poorly lit corner my booth had been squeezed into ) I learnt alot and put plans in place so that situation never happened again.

  • Sandra says:

    Oh Brittany this was so awesome, I’m putting this post on my desktop to refer to in moments of self-doubt! You really struck a cord with me. And you public speak so that makes you a rockstar in my books. I give anybody kudos who can stand in front of people and open their mouths, and words come out…even quiet words due to voice loss! Bravo!
    Sandra recently posted… The “Talk”…the one that includes body parts…My Profile

  • gigi says:

    I’m so sorry that your audience was small – what a bummer! But I’m glad you’re not blaming yourself for it all. There are so many factors that could have contributed to the low turnout. sometimes it’s easier to cut your teeth in an area you havent spoken on before by starting with a small audience – preps you for next time. And remember, if one person took away tips that can improve your blog, which I’m sure they did, you had an impact. And ultimately, that’s what you’re there for. 🙂
    gigi recently posted… A very messy moment!My Profile

  • liz says:

    I’m so sorry, Brittany! I have no doubt that you girls rocked your presentation! This, like anything, is one of the many experiences in life, and like you said, you now have crossed that “first conference speaking” hurdle and feel more confident about going for Round 2.
    liz recently posted… Why I Would Make an Awful “House Hunter’s” GuestMy Profile

  • Oh, Brittany I like you so much. This seals the deal even more. I have had this happen before, too, and now looking back I see that it really shaped me to handle the small crowds like they are a full house. Also how I suggest people consider their small blog audience. I hope you’ll share your session when it’s online because I would really like to see and learn from it.

    adventures in babywearing recently posted… Dear shadow alive and wellMy Profile

  • Okay, that sucks. A lot. But I bet you were fabulous and all the people who came learned tons!
    Megan – Best of Fates recently posted… Why You Probably Shouldn’t Ask Me To Pet SitMy Profile

  • […] TwoMom Got Blog: Pumpkin Drop CookiesFreaky Perfect: How To Take Great Family PhotosMommy Words: Stiff Upper Lip: Dealing With Disappointment Have you come across a great read? Tell us where to find it in the comment section! (Yes, it can be […]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge