Why tight schedules can help you confront your fears

" Scream " by  Crosa  is licenced by  CC BY 2.0

"Scream" by Crosa is licenced by CC BY 2.0

A few weeks ago I was asked at the last minute to come in and run a conference session. The booked speaker was ill and they needed someone else. Fast.

I said yes. It was 15 minutes' away, and I could be in and out in just over an hour. And I was sympathetic to their cause. When I worked in television, I spent more time than I care to remember pulling things together at short notice. In fact with complex contributors, rushed schedules and tight budgets (no £75m tents for us) it was more or less par for the course.

So a couple of hours later I was on stage delivering a just-planned session to 200 people. It's fair to say that none of us – the organisers, the delegates... me – knew quite what to expect. But it was fine. Did it go entirely to plan? No. Did that matter? Not at all. What did matter was that I delivered a good session on topic and with confidence.

I was struck afterwards by how utterly unfazed I'd been by the whole thing. Public speaking doesn't scare me, so that probably helped. And I (mostly) practice what I preach and use the physical techniques I develop in my clients. But it was more than that. There was simply no time for fear.

With a bit more notice I would've planned and prepped and carefully considered all aspects of the session. I don't think that's a bad thing. In fact, I think it creates solid ground from which to deliver sessions that are not only effective, but relevant: I'm equipped to respond in the moment. But I also would've wasted some of that planning time getting nervous, and trying to control elements I simply couldn't.

It's perhaps rare to be asked to do something at extremely short notice that's actually doable. But there are many more opportunities to try an idea quickly and see what happens. There's licence in the lack of time. So embrace the no notice, at least some of the time. Ask yourself what you would do in an hour's time if you took fear out of the equation. And then crack on. You don't need to feel the fear to do it anyway!