I used to be a worrier.

Not quite at the Master's level, but certainly qualified for Advanced Degree status.

If there was an important event in the near future, I would begin worrying about my ability to succeed from the moment it was written on the calendar.

Within days I would be obsessed with worry:

  • will I embarrass myself by telling a joke wrong?
  • will I offend someone by not hearing what they said?
  • will I forget my lines and skip important details?
  • what if I'm late?
  • what if I mess up?

And then the event would happen.  I would be so nervous and anxious about it that many times I would be sick in the bathroom.

And pretty much everything I worried about would happen.

Because I spent the time worrying instead of preparing.

Until a friend pointed out that my lack of confidence was causing my anxiety.

And that I could gain confidence by directing the energy put into worrying toward preparing for an event.

And that's when I began to learn how to prepare.

Preparation Builds Confidence

Preparation includes practice. Yes, your piano teacher was right: practice does make perfect.

On my calendar, today, are two events where I am billed as an expert speaker. I know the subjects well, but honestly, if I don't practice and review I will be a hot mess a week or so before each event. I will dive back into the worry and obsession of messing up.

So, I prepare by practicing.


One event is about three weeks away. I am presenting a workshop to a group of professionals. It's a workshop I've been giving since 2009 and I know it well. But that doesn't mean I don't prepare.

  • I've reviewed the material
  • I made a few changes to keep it current
  • I've read it out loud
  • I've walked through it in my office as if I were presenting to the audience
  • I have a date with a friend to walk through it at their office a week before the event

My anxiety about the event has been reduced to a miniscule amount. My insecurity is gone because I know the material. Just before I go on stage I will follow my routine of prayer, deep breathing and visualization of success.


The second event is about six weeks away. It's a big event with other speakers and presenters, an all day affair for business owners. Just yesterday I was told the topic I am to present. It's time to get to work creating the presentation then practicing.

  • I will do a bit of research, including a coffee interview.
  • I will zero in on the One Thing the audience should learn.
  • I will write about the One Thing, as much as I know about it from experience and from research.
  • I will condense the One Thing into a story that will illustrate it for the audience.
  • I will create a final presentation that brings in the One Thing as a story, an outline for action and what the audience can expect in terms of results.

Another way I prepare myself is through continuous training. An example of that is below – the Top Producer Formula. It's a series of video and audio that helps to set my mind to be the best I can be. It doesn't have a thing to do with “how to give a great presentation”, but what I learn and hear is how to be the best I can be … at anything I do.

A bit of nervousness is normal for me now. It's manageable.

Now it doesn't matter if I'm attending a face-to-face networking event, a gala dinner, speaking at a national conference, or training a group of professionals – as long as I prepare myself I have won half the battle.

What about you?

Have you conquered the worry?

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