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How I am preparing to speak at a highly visible, very influential North American conference

I clearly remember the moment when I received the email from Tricia Broderick, the conference chair the Agile 2017 Conference, that my proposal for How ATDD Fixed Your Agile Flow in the Testing & Quality track had been accepted for inclusion in the Agile2017 Conference program. It was right before our team’s Daily Scrum. I read the email, got out of my chair, and started jumping up and down! I was not expecting to get chosen to speak at the flagship of Agile events for the year, but nonetheless, I was suddenly in the middle of feeling a terrific moment.

I know that famous authors, leaders in the industry, thought leaders, and other superstars are attending this conference, so I could not help but wonder: how should I prepare for this conference? Someone in my track mentioned that it would be nice to meet some of her Twitter heroes. I don’t have any Twitter heroes. Do I need to get some? I know that my submission was one of the 10% of the submissions that had been accepted, so I kept thinking how I was going to maximize this opportunity that so many others needed to help them on their agile journey.

I am still trying to get into conference mode. My talk is now less than a week away, so how should I get in the right mindset?

I had given this talk many times in the past, so I feel it’s pretty polished. The success of it depends on audience interaction, which you can count on for any Agile Alliance event. But still, I felt I needed to do more.

I started asking those in my network how I should prepare. Most were in dismay that I was asking, others were confused, and still others were shocked that I didn’t know. However, those that had these reactions gave me the best, ingenious advice. Here’s the simple guidelines I am going to follow:

“Do what you have always done”: Well this makes sense. I should realize that I have worked very hard to get to this stage. The feedback and attitude of continuous improvement has driven me to deliver the next talk even better. I just need to keep doing that.

Be yourself: I am the one who got here, so it doesn’t matter what other people do to prepare, and what their agenda is. I am getting out of this conference what is important to me, and how it affects my journey. I know what that is and what it means to me. Others encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing. Great advice.

Be in the present: The only thing that matters is now. It’s so easy to lose sight of this, especially in preparation for an opportunity that many others would love to have. I am reminded of a quote from Talent Is Never Enough by John C. Maxwell, “You can’t change yesterday. You can’t count on tomorrow. But you can choose what you do today…give today your focus, and reap the benefits tomorrow.” I need to remind myself how much more powerful the choices that I make in the present are in comparison to the preparations I make for the future.

Be grateful: I have decided that I am going to start my talk this time with an attitude of gratitude — even before I introduce myself. It will be an honor for me to give another killer talk to another eager audience to hear what I have to present . I am grateful to have this opportunity. I am grateful that I will be in the middle of the awesome atmosphere that will be surrounding me and the participants.

Have fun: This is what agile is all about. Sure, continuous improvement, making people

awesome, safety, experimentation are all important. This is actually part of the agenda that I mention in my slides, and perhaps is what is most often overlooked. I’m sure I will start having fun once I am there, so the only big roadblock here is going to be me. I need to stop worrying and start having some fun.

I am very grateful for the terrific network that reminded me of very simple tips in preparation for my trip. I’m starting to get super excited for my experience. I am ready for whatever challenges I experience. In less than a week, the adventure begins!