Recently, I was speaking to a group of sales professionals. Some were new to sales; most were experienced pros. I was delivering a totally new keynote speech for my book, Agile Selling, and sharing strategies on how to quickly learn new things so you can stay at the top of your game—or get there.
Now, I may not seem like the type of person who gets nervous at the prospect of doing new things, but I am. I want my keynotes and workshops to be an awesome experience for everyone in the audience, so I work hard on them.
This speech took me a long time to prepare. I thought about how to capture people’s attention at the very beginning. I spent hours developing the key points as well as selecting stories to illustrate them. I wrestled with how to create audience engagement. I practiced my speech at my office beforehand. On the airplane, I did a couple mental run-throughs. By the time I arrived, I was well rehearsed—and completely and utterly terrified.
The first time you do anything is risky. You’re vulnerable and likely to screw up (which, of course, I did). But if you do screw up, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. The people who heard my speech had no idea that things hadn’t gone exactly as planned. You’ve only failed at something when you refuse to try.