Self-doubt tends to make its way to the front of your mind when it comes time to host a virtual summit. And I know this because even though I am here teaching you about virtual summits, I've struggled with the same exact thing.
Today, we are going to cover things like how I struggled with self-doubt before my first summit, how that self-doubt really compared to reality, what moving past that self-doubt did for me. I'll also cover pieces I still struggle with today after hosting four summits and teaching others how to do it.
I want to start by telling you a little bit about my struggles with self-doubt leading up to my first virtual summit. My first round of summit planning began in October of 2017. Even though this was my first summit, it wasn't the first time I'd thought about hosting one.
I had thought about it a lot. Leading up to that, I'd seen other people doing it. I saw them building these huge audiences, having a lot of fun, and seeing great success.
But to me, it was never an option. It was never something that I saw myself as being able to do because I just wasn't a big enough deal.
October 2017 was the first time I thought of it really seriously and considered it as something I could do. For the first time, I looked at it as something I might be able to pull off, rather than something only the big marketing gurus could do.
My big "ah-ha" moment came one day in the car. I was almost home and something just clicked. I realized I could do my summit differently.
I had a very specific audience - my audience for that business is brand and web designers. I knew that hosting a summit just for them would set me apart from the rest.
Up to that point, I had never seen a summit just for designers (although now I've started a trend;)). I knew I could make the most of that and do it in a way that felt good to me and truly provided value and helped my attendees be part of a community.
Even though I felt good about this idea, I definitely wasn't confident.
But with the realization that I'd have something unique to bring to the world of summits, I decided that I was going to at least give it a try.
Honestly, I didn't have much to lose. I was making what I needed to in my business, but had big goals and was feeling stuck. I knew that a successful summit would get me closer to where I wanted to be faster.
Now that the decision was made and the planning started, what happened?
For a major portion of the planning stage, my excitement buried my self-doubt. I love organizing things and starting new projects, so I was in my zone of genius. I was knocking things out, one task after another, and I was having a blast.
There were definitely times when I started to feel more scared than excited, but I was also, getting ready to have my first baby. My brain was just full of other things, and I was able to kind of ignore the feelings of being scared for the most part.
That is, until it came time to pitch my speakers.
Pitching speakers was, and still is, the hardest part for me. I knew that if I wanted this to be a success, I needed to get out of my comfort zone with who I pitched.
But the problem was I didn't really have a comfort zone. I wasn't comfortable with it at all. I was even terrified to pitch my best friend.
Luckily (and obviously), she said yes, which gave me the tiny confidence boost I needed to make the next couple of pitches and identify the rest of my potential speaker list.
This is where the three-step pitching process that I teach inside the Summit in a Box® program came from. It's a great process, but it actually came from my self-doubt.
I started with the easiest people to pitch, which boosted my confidence a little. Then, I was able to use those people as social proof when I was moving on to people I didn't know as well or those with bigger audiences.
When those "next level" pitches went out, I'll tell you, I was terrified and had so much anxiety around it. But each time a response came in, a little bit of that anxiety got replaced with more and more excitement.
Once the pitches were done, I was able to be fully excited again and focus on preparing for everything else...until it came time to promote.
Do you see this as a crazy cycle? This anxiety and uncertainty I had in the days before the promotion started were just as bad as what I felt when I was pitching speakers, if not worse.
I was thinking that everyone who saw the promotions would see that I, this little developer, was hosting a summit and wonder what the heck I thought I was doing.
I was pretty sure no one would sign up and that other speakers would hate me for wasting their time and effort. It really sounds ridiculous now, but I know that I'm not the only one who feels this way.
The good news is that I had developed a target virtual summit audience and virtual summit topic that really hit home, and I got incredibly positive feedback from day one.
Within a couple of days of promotion, I had hit my sales goal. From there it was pretty much uphill.
Of course, there were times where I wondered who I was to be doing something like this, especially something that actually worked. But I am so glad I pushed through. (And I hope you will too)
I really want you to know that you can do this too. To help, I want to cover how all of this self-doubt and anxiety I felt compared to reality.
It's funny because nothing that I was worried and anxious about actually happened.
Nothing I was worried about happened.
The speakers I pitched were excited to participate, especially in something that was organized well and had a specific audience that they could craft their presentations for.
Attendees were way more excited than I expected and happy to purchase the all-access pass. I had people literally thanking me for letting them purchase it.
And I made a real impact. Even now, I still have people emailing or sending messages on social media to say how big of an impact my events have had on them. That's something I never expected.
With all that being said, I'm so glad that I didn't let my negative self-talk stop me. I obviously wouldn't be where I am with Summit In A Box® if it weren't for that. But also, my development business, which I'm still running, wouldn't be where it is right now.
I've been booked out six months in advance for custom work and for the foreseeable future for retainer work. I don't know when I'll have another opening for that, and it's also helped me feel so much more confident in my business all around like I can talk to people about it more confidently. I don't worry that it's just going to stop working one day.
My summit was the first time that I really felt like I was making an impact on other businesses, and now that I know I can do it, I can't get enough. I've also made just so many new friends and connections that I never would have made otherwise, and I'm so grateful that I put my fears aside and hosted that first summit.
I want you to do it too!
Even being able to look back at all of this and see that there's nothing realistic for me to worry about, I do still struggle with some self-doubt when I'm hosting my summits.
The biggest place that it comes up for me is when it comes to pitching speakers. I still worry that when I'm pitching a bigger name, that they're going to wonder who the heck I am, what I want, and what I think I'm doing.
Really it's not a big deal because if they think that, that's cool. I still know that I can go on and host a successful summit without them. What they think truly doesn't matter. (But it's still something that gives me a little bit of anxiety.)
Now there's also the matter of the added pressure of running this business. I feel like I need to have incredible results to share. There's a lot of pressure to constantly exceed the results of my previous events so that I feel qualified to be teaching what I'm teaching.
But I'm just going to keep doing what I always do and push through. I'm going to keep experimenting for you guys. If something doesn't work for me, I want to tell you about that, so you know not to do it and we improve together. Because I want you to be able to learn from both my successes with hosting summits and my failures.
I am not going to let my fear of not getting impressive enough results hold me back from doing that for you.
I hope that this has helped you see that even people who look like they have it all together still struggle with all of this mindset stuff. Don't let your own self-doubt make you feel guilty. But more importantly, don't let it stop you.
I can share this story with you, but I'm definitely not an expert in beating negative self-talk and increasing confidence so I've brought on some guests to help:
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