Public Speaking

Speaking on Stage For The First Time

Danny Leibrandt

Danny Leibrandt

Jun 15, 2023

Danny Leibrandt at Digimarcon
Danny Leibrandt at Digimarcon
Danny Leibrandt at Digimarcon

“…ladies and gentlemen, Danny Leibrandt!”

The MC’s announcement echoed in my ears as I approached the podium. In that moment, it felt as if I entered another dimension. But let me rewind and take you through the journey that led me to this pivotal moment.

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The Unexpected Invitation

A few weeks ago, my mentor, Dennis Yu, suggested I should speak at an event. Knowing Dennis, he’s always throwing out wild ideas, so I didn’t think much of it at the time. Fast forward a few days, we were on our way to Boston for a conference where Dennis was scheduled to speak. Then, out of the blue, I received a message on LinkedIn.

“Hi Danny, welcome aboard to the DigiMarCon Conference! We’ve assigned a speaking slot just for you. Here are the details:”

I chuckled nervously. “There’s no way,” I thought. I immediately told Dennis.

“Ah, good!” he said.

“But that’s tomorrow, right?” I asked, my voice tinged with panic.

“Yep,” he replied casually.

The Countdown Begins

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. I grabbed my phone, feeling like I was defusing a bomb. The time read 11:31 PM. My speaking slot was at 2:15 PM the next day. And I had even less time than I thought, given the three-hour time difference between Las Vegas and Boston.

I had to create a speech and a presentation in less than 24 hours. Panic set in. I’ve never needed those extra three hours more in my life. As we headed to the airport, I downed a coffee and got to work. For the next nine hours, I poured my energy into crafting the perfect presentation.

The Realization

Little did I know, my pursuit of perfection would be my downfall. A few hours in, I felt good about the content until I started practicing. It wasn’t even five minutes long, and I was supposed to speak for thirty. I stared blankly out of the plane window, jittery with caffeine coursing through my veins.

There seemed to be no logical way I could pull this off. But I kept going anyway. By the time we landed, it was midnight in Boston. I had about twelve minutes of a speech with no slides. By the time we got to the hotel, it was 1 AM, and we had to wake up at 8:30 AM.

The Night of Restless Sleep

Dennis advised me to get some sleep and relax. Easier said than done. My body craved rest, but my mind was at war. It was one of those nights where you never truly fall asleep, hovering on the brink of consciousness.

The next morning, I woke up feeling rigid and wicked. Despite the exhaustion, I found a sort of dark amusement in the impossible task ahead. However, reality soon kicked in, and self-doubt crept in.

“All the odds are stacked against me. No sleep, no presentation, no experience. I can’t do this.”

The Final Hours

With two hours to go, after tirelessly working on my presentation, I spoke with Dennis. He told me to scrap nearly all of it.

“What?? Why?” I exclaimed.

“You’re relying too much on the slides. Most people go wrong by treating it like a book instead of a presentation. You should tell stories instead,” Dennis explained.

Though I was initially frustrated, I knew he was right. With less than two hours remaining, every minute mattered. The host kept asking for the USB download. I hammered through as much as I could until time was up.

The Moment of Truth

At 2:15 PM, the moment arrived.

“…ladies and gentlemen, Danny Leibrandt!”

As I walked up to the podium, I snapped into a trance. It felt as if I entered another dimension. I barely remembered what I said because I was so present in the moment. All I knew was that I didn’t completely mess up.

To my surprise, after the speech, people came up to me, offering compliments and asking questions. The speech was far from perfect, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. And that realization was key.

Key Takeaways

Reflecting on this experience, here are my key takeaways:

  1. Perfection Kills Creation: Striving for perfection can hinder progress. Embrace imperfection and focus on delivering value.

  2. Don’t Be Afraid to Restart: Sometimes, starting over can lead to better outcomes. Don’t be afraid to scrap what isn’t working.

  3. You Fall to the Level of Your Expertise: In challenging situations, you rely on your foundational skills and knowledge. Continually build and refine them.

  4. Limiting Beliefs Hold You Back: The biggest obstacles are often our own limiting beliefs. Challenge them, and you’ll realize nothing is impossible.

  5. Doing Your Best is What Matters: Ultimately, giving your best effort, regardless of the outcome, is what truly counts.

I am incredibly grateful to Dennis for the opportunity and glad I followed through with it. If you made it this far, thank you for reading! Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome. Let’s connect and grow together.