056: Fears I Had Before, During, & After My First Summit

Having some fears about hosting your summit? Trust me, I get it.

In this episode, I'll break down the 4 biggest fears I ran into with my first summit and one that I still deal with today.


Hey, Hey, welcome to the Summit Host Hangout podcast where you'll learn how to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit, no influencer status necessary. I'm your host, Krista from Summit In A Box, and today we're kicking off a new series around some of the things I see as most important when it comes to hosting a successful summit. The series will include everything from mindset to goal setting to planning. They're all things I really want you to know and key in on in your planning process. Today in episode 56 we're going to start by talking about fears that come up when hosting a summit.

The best way I can talk to you about this is to share my own fears, and these are specifically fears I experienced during my first summit, but even with three and summit number four in progress, these are still fears that come up for me. If you're feeling these things during your first or second summit, do not feel guilty. It's totally normal.

In this episode we're going to cover where I was at when I started planning my first summit, the different stages that really freaked me out throughout the planning process and how they each turned out and how I pushed through them, what had me feeling a little freaked out after the summit was over and maybe even more so now, and what I want you to do if you're experiencing these fears, which you'll see end up being imposter syndrome.

Before we dive in, I want you to know that starting on your summit is the one thing that can relieve a lot of the anxiety and stress you're feeling. Of course, it is terrifying to sit and think of it as one big thing you need to do all at once. A summit is a big project. If you see it as one thing, it's going to be almost impossible for you to feel good about doing it. But seeing it broken down into small steps on your calendar makes it all so much more doable. And because of that, I want you to go grab my summit planning timeline. With this, you can see how long I suggest taking the plan a summit, my best tips for it, and I even have a timeline calculator in there where you enter the date you want your summit to start and it will suggest due dates for the most important tasks based on that. You can get the timeline calculator and feel a whole lot better about the planning process over summithosthangout.com/timeline.

When I started planning my first summit

Let's dive into where I was when I started planning my first summit. At that time I'd been in business for about two years. I was running and still am running a WordPress development business, and my target audience is designers. I do development for designers. I had about 400 people on my email list, so not a huge list by any means. It was pretty decent for, you know, the type of business I was running. But it's a very small list when you look at everyone else out there. As far as clients go, I was getting clients when I needed them, but I wasn't super well known, super visible or booking in advance. I was kind of booking as I needed it. I had never done anything close to a summit before. I had done some small challenges. I'd done some joint webinars here and there even before I transitioned my business to WordPress development. Nothing super successful, but I kind of played around. Nothing even close to a summit.

I had spoken at one summit before, so that's what kind of gave me the idea that oh maybe this is something that I could do as well. But at that time I was scared to even accept that I could do a summit, and this is an idea that kept popping into my head for months and months. I'd think, “Oh, I could do something.” “Oh no, no, I can’t,’” I would like immediately push the idea away thinking that I wasn't nearly important enough or a big enough deal to host a summit. I was worried about things like what would speakers think of me when I pitched, who could I even pitch that would think this was a good idea for me to do? And would people in my audience just laugh when I started promoting and think “who does she think she is? Like, what is she doing?”

I was honestly worried it would just look like a big joke just because I wasn't huge in my industry and I didn't have a huge audience, so because of those things, it wasn't something I let myself consider for a really long time. Whenever the idea popped up, I just immediately pushed it away. Like I didn't even let it come up long enough to think of it as a real viable idea. But one day in the car I was listening to a podcast episode, and it just clicked. I don't know what it was, but something made me realize that I could do a really specific summit for my audience just for designers and I’d seen nothing like that had ever been done before. It would be something I could make stand out that people would really want to be a part of. At least that was my hope. Luckily I turned out to be right on that.

I want you to think about how you can set your summit apart, is it your specific audience? Is it a specific topic you'd tackle that your audience really needs help with? Is it a spin on the summit idea or a unique way you'd host your summit? If you can come up with something that will set your summit apart from all the other summits out there, you're going to feel better about the planning process if you have that smaller audience because it's going to be something that grabs people's attention and they're not going to focus on the fact that you don't have an audience. And honestly they probably won't think much of that anyways.

Pitching speakers for my first summit

So that was great. That kind of helped me push through and start the planning process. Everything was fine and fun. I was enjoying it until it came time to find and pitch speakers.

All of those original feelings came flooding back when I started even thinking about pitching, I was terrified that I was going to send out these emails and getting nothing but negative replies or like radio silence in return. To sort of help with this I started by pitching a couple people I knew really well and who I wanted to speak. The person who co-hosted on a different podcast with me and I was like best friends with, I was even scared to send that pitch email. But I started with her and a couple of other people that I knew well like that. And I really quickly started getting yeses from them. That gave me a tiny bit of confidence, but also it gave me some names to use in my other pitches saying, “Hey, here's what I have. Here are some other people that are participating.” That made me feel better about sending pitches to people I didn't know quite as well. So I did that and it worked, and speakers were into the idea. Almost everyone I pitched said, yes.

I will be honest, I wasn't pitching huge people that first time. I was too scared to do that, but it was a start, right? It got me started with my first summit, even though I wasn't pitching these huge people just because I was scared. Now, I would love to see you pitch big names even if you don't think you have a chance of landing them. But I didn't do that my first time, and it still turned out okay moving forward.

Promoting my first summit

That was all good until again, it came time to start promoting and actually putting the summit out into the world. The presentations I was getting from my speakers were great. I watched through a few of them. I loved what they were teaching. I knew my audience would love it too, but I was terrified at what everyone would think when they saw this little developer with a small audience from Wisconsin hosting a summit, like what were they going to think of me? But just because I was terrified those scheduled social media posts went out anyway, the summit went out into the world. My speakers started promoting. Within the first couple of days I had already hit my income goal and was saying that I needed to set a new goal for registrations as well. People loved it. The conversions were high. They were so excited to get started. It was something they'd never seen before. And the specific messaging I had used for that audience was really catching people's attention because they hadn't seen a summit just for them before.

That's, I think, that's a big part of why I really preach, you know, get your niche and topic down before you even think about anything else because it can be a game changer. It doesn't matter if you have a tiny audience or if you're terrified of how it's gonna turn out if you have this niche and topic right because people will be into it if you get that part right. By the way, I think episode four of the podcast goes over getting your niche, and episode five goes over your topic if you need help with that.

Again, promotion was going, wow. It was a little scary here and there, but once we got started and I saw the results start rolling in, I of course started feeling better. But once again, you're seeing a pattern here. Everything was great until the next thing happened, which in this case was a day one of the summit.

Honestly, I don't remember anymore what exactly I was scared of at that point. Maybe I was worried that it wouldn't be as helpful as I'd expected or that people would watch a couple of presentations and stop caring and the speakers wouldn't be happy with the results they were getting, but honestly that couldn't be farther from what happened. Attendees were so much more excited and engaged than I even thought they would be. My speakers were loving the attention they were getting. Sales were rolling in like crazy. Honestly, I was floored and thinking back to that day, I still am. Like this little thing works and I shouldn't say little thing. Hosting a summit isn't a little thing. But this big thing for my little business worked. All of the fears I had, all of the imposter syndrome I was feeling was just kind of proven wrong. It was like showing its way to the door because it worked based on the strategies that I use and that I teach you now.

My biggest struggle during my first summit

We'll get into the fears that I still had and still have to this day after the summit was over. But I wanted to wrap up this section by going over what that biggest struggle here was, which I just said every step of the way, I doubted that I was good enough to host a summit because of, you know, I'd never done anything like it before and my audience was small. I'm from a small town that nobody's ever heard of. I was just convinced that that was going to have a part to play in how my summit was received, but we talked in episode 27 about what you need to host a summit.

If you're listening to this, you are good enough and you need to just recognize and accept that even though you're going to feel this imposter syndrome, it's going to be uncomfortable, but you can move forward and create an incredible summit despite all of that. You do have something of value to offer your audience, and if you have the capacity to create a summit for them and you can get specific and solve a problem they have, you need to do that because you have so much to offer your audience. I really encourage you to push past these fears like I did. Embrace them, push through them, think of ways you can think, make it easier if possible, but keep going with your summit.

Fears I felt after my first summit was over

So I wanted to just kind of wrap this episode up by just talking about some fears I felt after the summit. Part of these things you will deal with, part of them you won't.

And I'm recording this episode right now in the middle of pitching speakers for my fourth summit. So the perfect time to talk about this. I have, I think about 20 speakers confirmed right now. My last round of pitches just went out yesterday and has gotten a decent reception so far. So I'm in the middle of planning this fourth summit.

After my first summit, I was honestly scared it was a fluke. You might feel that way too. If you're working on your second summit or if you're still working on your first after it, you might be like, “okay, that was great, but can I do it again?” I knew I wanted to do it again, but I was so scared that I wasn't even going to come close to the success I saw the first time. Honestly, I set a goal to make the same amount of money and get the same amount of registrations, but I honestly doubted I could even get close to that. I was like, I'm not going to make that much again. Like it's not going to work that well.

But you guys know if you've been listening here, I made about $6,000 more the second time around, which I was so happy with. And I can tell you right now, before planning for my fourth summit, I felt the same way. Although now that I'm seeing specific speakers roll and I'm starting to talk to some sponsors, I'm pretty confident that I'm going to blow, you know, that second summit out of the water. But I will tell you that in my summit recap episode, once all is said and done, probably in the first or second week in April, but this time around I have a different fear and that is that my summit won't live up to your expectations, so my audience at Summit In A Box.

I love you guys, I want to teach you all the things about summits, I want to have incredible results to show you, but with that comes fear that I'm going to host a summit, and it's not going to live up to your expectations. It's a lot of pressure to teach summits and then have everybody watch you host one. What if it flaps? What if it doesn't make as much as I think it's going to. What if something happens and it looks like a disaster from the outside? This is going to be my second summit while having Summit In A Box. Last time was definitely worse. But you know, this time I've been able to look at it as I'm changing so many things in my summit so that I can teach you guys what works and what doesn't that if a strategy doesn't work, at least I can teach it to you. So while there is that pressure, I'm trying to look at it in a way that, all right, no matter what happens, I'll be able to teach these guys something.

I just wanted to share that with you that even though I've done this three times before, there are still things that come up, and it probably will for you too. Don't feel bad about it because if you're slightly terrified of hosting a summit, you're not alone. Everyone gets freaked out about it.

Action Steps

I have some action steps for you. I want you to recognize your fear when you feel it drill down to where it's coming from. See if you can find the root cause and get some pull, some true side of that. For me, when I was scared of pitching speakers, I was scared of, okay, they're going to come back and think this is ridiculous and just laugh at my pitch. Okay, why would they laugh at my pitch? Oh cause I'm not a big enough deal. Okay, what does that even mean? Like, you know, drilling down that way to try to find the root cause of the problem and if there's something you can do to relieve some of that fear, do it. So if it's, you know, like what I did is pitch some friends first. I just kind of get the ball rolling, have some people to use in later pitching rounds, um, do stuff like that. But otherwise you just push through knowing that it will all be worth it if you have gone about your planet. Well, if you have a good audience on topic for your summit, it is going to work out. So have confidence in that and just let the fear come and go when it needs to.

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. In the next episode we'll be chatting about the most important parts of a profitable and visibility boosting impactful summit. Be sure to tune in for that.

Now go out and take action to plan, strategize, and launch your profitable online summit.




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