Almost everyone gets nervous before public speaking, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is no exception. After going from a grassroots organizer to one of the most influential politicians in the world, she used her Instagram to give us a peek behind the curtain of how she prepares before giving large public speeches. She explained in detail how she fights nervousness through preparation, and then tries her best to roll with any criticism she may receive after.
Before taking the stage to give the keynote address at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, a gathering of mayors all over the world dedicated to combating climate change, Ocasio-Cortez admitted that she felt nervous all day. Her nervousness was especially exacerbated after seeing how much press coverage she was getting before the event.
“I had been up until 4 writing a speech that I eventually scrapped and was starting all over. LOTS OF ANXIETY. I get very nervous before big speeches and moments,” she wrote. “And the fact that my face is on the front page of a Danish newspaper when I go to get coffee is not making me feel any more relaxed.”
Harnessing the nerves as fuel, Ocasio-Cortez worked on her speech up until the very last minute. She then explained that because of the way her mistakes are often taken on by the right, she feels held to a higher standard, but that ultimately is a good thing.
“If one word or hair is out of place, the right seizes on it and makes the story instead of what we are here to talk about: creating economic opportunity for working people in tackling climate change,” she wrote. “But the upside to being held to a higher standard is you get used to having to perform very well. So I’m reviewing and reworking until the last second.”
Ocasio-Cortez wrapped up her “anatomy of a speech” story by stating that it’s hard to immediately gauge how larger audiences are responding to her, but she’s working to be kinder to herself if she makes mistakes.
“I generally don’t know how well I did until after the fact. Sadly I am a perfectionist and I am working on being kinder to myself,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It doesn’t help when literally any mistake I make is broadcast everywhere. But that has taught me to roll with it since I can’t hide.”
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