Preparing For Success


I taught a new workshop at a writer’s conference recently: How To Give a Killer Keynote. It’s always a little tricky preparing for a workshop I’ve never taught before because I’m not sure what the students most want to learn. Usually, certain concerns and questions come up again and again in workshops and I tailor the class toward those. So I was a little worried about this class. It’s like going on a first date with someone you met through a dating site. No matter how attractive and interesting someone appears in their profile, you can’t really know who they are until you sit down across from them.

Still, I felt pretty certain we’d spend about half the class talking about the terrors of public speaking. Writers, after all, are quite comfortable being alone, but not always so comfortable being alone in front of a microphone once they become authors. I had a lot of fun coming up with a bunch of exercises and techniques the students could use to calm themselves when facing an audience. The more I prepared for the workshop, the more I looked forward to being able soothe these nervous writers, helping them see the job of author as a little bit friendlier.

The day of the workshop arrived and a small but enthusiastic crowd found their seats. I began by asking how many of the attendees had ever done public speaking. All the hands went up. I then asked how many enjoyed public speaking. All the hands went up again. And I thought, “What the hell am I going to talk about for the next 90 minutes?”

I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to quit thinking I need to predict the future. As always, the class went fine not because of what I had prepared but because the students quickly showed me what was needed that day, and because I listened and got interested in what I was hearing and then tried to have as much fun as possible as I taught. It’s a good formula for success, but one about which I remain suspicious in those idle hours leading up to some Big Event. How do I ensure my future well-being? How do I know everything is going to be okay?

To soothe myself I need look no further than right next to me, or right across from me, or right in my lap – the present moment being the only sure and immediate answer to the future’s opaque riddle.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual coaching and group workshops.

Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
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William KenowerComment