Preparation in just the right amount

In 6th grade I over-prepared for my biology lesson. We had to memorize all the terms by heart. I still remember all the bone names, or what the cells are made of, or the plants, or the digestive system, hearing, brain everything. It was fascinating. I never considered being a doctor but I loved learning everything. 

As the teacher called on me, my brain felt stuck. Overstuffed. I wasn’t nervous. I just couldn’t juggle and share the information. The teacher didn’t give me a bad grade. He just made the observation that I over-prepared. 

It has happened to me once or twice as an adult. I overthink à thème, a project, and when it’s time to deliver, I can’t do my best. Everything is to the surface. Twisted. Stuck. 

Now I regularly prepare well in advance, sleep on it, don’t think about it for a while, and at the right time the information flies seamlessly to the surface, and I deliver it with ease and conviction. 

Two years ago my talk at the conference got pushed later, and I also didn’t feel well prepared, so I kept revisiting the talking points. It was a mistake. My mind couldn’t distinguish between what I have just delivered and what I have been thinking about recently. 

So this year I prepared the talks, printed them and didn’t think about them one bit. When time came I didn’t stress. I showed up. And I delivered. 

My audience was present. And I engaged with them. I used my notes and also talked from my experience, staying on track and yet including things that were unplanned but relevant. I hosted two workshops for two different groups. 

Another speaker asked me what I think I did well and what I would improve on. Great questions to ponder. I didn’t want to sound arrogant but this time I was so happy I could deliver what I prepared without sitting with my eyes down in my papers. I tried hard to be a captivating speaker while delivering a worthwhile content. 

My dream is to know my content by heart, and deliver speeches with poise. Extroverts speak without thinking. I have to think before I speak. Otherwise i say nothing rich. I have to envision my bullet points and then I can fill in the blanks on topics I’m familiar with. 

The self-knowledge competence with feedback as a tool was a great success. I had 12 attendees. And they gave me very encouraging feedback about what applied  to them and how impactful this talk was. The beauty is that I have 67 more competencies I could deliver workshops on. 

I used to get all self conscious and red in the face sometimes when I felt that too many eyes were on me. Not anymore. My eyes and mind lock on my goal, my message, and my heart connects to the people with the intent to serve them well, to communicate a relevant message, to make myself understood. If I focus too much on myself I trip on my words. Like crossing a bridge. You want to pay attention to where you step but don’t focus to much on your feet. Look a few steps ahead as well, aware of your surroundings. Without getting distracted by the height of the bridge and the rushing water beneath. Soon after we will all cross bridges with confidence and poise. 

I loved delivering those workshops. I did not want to talk too much about them before delivery. They were my creation, I wrestled with the content but used my skill and confidence I built at apple, when I was facilitating those few hundred workshops on technology and training peers or managers. 

May I remember these days of confidence affirmed and success, during those drab seasons when I feel stuck and underutilized, or that my gifts are buried. 

I hope and pray god will give me many opportunities to serve this way, to share my knowledge and always have a present and engaged audience.