It took me five years to work up the courage to enter a feeder for Iron Viz. I never thought I would win, but the small possibility of winning was enough to keep me away. I knew technically speaking I could build a viz in 20 minutes, but the idea of having to present it on stage and answer questions (that I wouldn’t know in advance) in front of 8,000+ people (plus many more online) was a terrifying thought. I consider myself an introvert and generally shy away from anything public speaking related. Speech class was the only class in my entire academic career I ever received a B in.
So, on August 5, 2019 when I found out I won the second feeder, I was a mixed bag of emotions. I was excited because just being selected was a huge honor. But I was terrified, anxious, nervous, and worried. Thankfully, the conference was 99 days away at the time, so I was able to calm my nerves by calculating how long I could ignore that this was actually happening.
Fast forward 100 days and Iron Viz is one of my favorite experiences I’ve ever done. It was a lot of work and a lot of stress (no sugar coating that is is hard), but looking back I am so grateful I was able to be a part of it. However, if you find yourself holding back from entering Iron Viz purely due to being introverted, stage freight, or being scared of the process, here are 10 reasons why you should not let your fear of winning keep you from entering an Iron Viz feeder:
- For (give or take) three entire weeks leading up to the conference you can deny every request to hang out, go out, or do something by saying “Sorry, I have to work on Iron Viz.”
- Everyone in the conference will recognize you and want to say hi. No need to worry about finding someone to talk to or where to sit or having to strike up a conversation!
- You will participate in a 20 minute improv class to practice “power poses” and say to your Sous Vizzer “this is not what I signed up for!” and “I’m only creative on the computer!” However, this will oddly make you comfortable and realize the entire event is absurd (in a how do I explain this to non-Tableau people type of way)
- Everyone at the event will cheer for you endlessly when your screen is shown, causing you to completely mess up what you are doing. But in the wise words of Andy Cotgreave, everyone is cheering because they want you to succeed. It is a safe environment.
- You will walk into an empty arena for rehearsals and realize Maroon 5 is playing there next month and the venue is big enough that it has held the Latin GRAMMY awards before. However, you will be so in the zone once you get going that you don’t even notice the crowd (er, you learn to ignore them after their first reaction messes you up).
- You will go through so many dry runs and rehearsals that by the time Iron Viz officially starts, it will feel the same as when you were practicing from your hotel room. Former contestants will tell you “everything clicks in the second dress rehearsal” and it is absolutely true.
- You will understand what it’s like to be a celebrity for a day (since in reality you couldn’t deal with that much attention all the time). Hair & makeup, outfit fittings, Britany Spears style microphones, video shoots, interviews, green rooms, and epic entrances.
- You will have an amazing Sous Vizzer by your side the entire time. Forget to change something to % of total? They will let you know. Need to remember to say geographically diverse in your spiel? They will discretely repeat it to you. Need reassuring words every 30 seconds backstage? They got you there too.
- You will form an incredible friendship with your fellow contestants and bond over the Iron Viz induced nerves, anxiety, and stress. Going through the whole crazy process with two other people makes it so much easier.
- Regardless of the result, you will feel invincible at the end. If you can do Iron Viz, you can do anything.