How do great speakers become great? How do Olympic athletes get so good at what they do? Practice, practice, practice of course. But there's one, often overlooked factor - they learn by doing.

It's important to prepare for the big events in your life. Say, for example, you are asked to give the key-note speech at charity dinner. You've worked in the charity arena for years - you are great at fund-raising, are on hand to meet and greet potential donors at the big events and can cold call with the best of them. But give a speech? Just a little bit beyond your experience level (not to mention way out of your comfort zone).

So how do you handle it? You read some books by some great speakers, perhaps take the Dale Carnegie course or join Toastmasters, write your speech out and coerce, persuade and beg your friends to serve as your willing audience time and again. You even go so far as to visualize the great day. You picture yourself all dressed up, walking up to the podium and giving the best speech of your life - heck, maybe even the best speech of anyone's life.

And you feel great. You have prepared to the best of your ability, your friends have told you how great your speech is and, being that you've been in this industry for several years, you feel confident that even if you don't wow the audience, you at least won't put them to sleep.

And then the big day arrives. You're dressed, you have your note cards prepared (just in case you forget something though you've memorized the entire speech), they call your name and you walk up to the podium, heart in hand. Then, out of nowhere, the nerves hit. Your stomach is so filled with butterflies, you feel like their next flutter will lift you right off your feet.

Somehow, you make your way to the podium without turning around and running terrified out the back door. You make your speech, remembering most of it (or at least you think you did, because it's all becoming something of a blur), sit down to polite, if not enthusiastic, applause and pray for this night to end.

What went wrong? Absolutely nothing. Preparation is great, practice is key, but you become skilled at doing something by doing it.

I read an article recently that spoke about how many people miss out on advancing their career because they're afraid to operate outside of their comfort zone. So they may be great at client presentations, but be unwilling to travel outside the country to meet with them because they don't speak the language. Or they might be great at connecting with their clients by phone calls and emails, but be intimidated by the thought of wining and dining that same client and his entourage all weekend.

Let me repeat - the best way to learn how to do something is by doing it. Why is that? Because when you look at some great 'thing' (like giving a keynote speech), it seems so intimidating from afar. So, continuing with the above example you do what you can to prepare and then give the keynote speech. And though the first time you do it may not be the best you'll ever do at it (unless you just have an unbelievable natural talent - and if that is the case, lucky you!), but, guess what? The next time you do it, you'll be even better. And the time after the next time you do it? Dare we say - great? Repetition is one of the principal keys to success and you must continue to give speeches until you get better.

Haven't you ever read a book written by someone, watched a stand-up comedy routine or someone act in a movie, and thought, 'I could do that so much better'? Well - you know what - you probably could. The only thing that separates you from that other person is that he or she went for what they wanted and you did not.

Yes, you could probably write a great book, do a wonderfully funny comedy routine or act well enough to garner honors - but the question is not can you, but WILL you? Will you take that teetering walk out on the high beam to try something you've never tried before? Will you risk your ego or self-esteem in an event that may not have the most positive initial outcome? Can you take the thought of operating outside of your comfort zone if the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term discomfort?

Those are definitely some things to think about.

So remember - you learn by DOING. What is it you can learn by DOING today?

Don't be afraid. And if you are afraid, don't let your fear hold you back. Do something different today. And set the course for your future...

Author's Bio: 

Author, Speaker and Life Coach. Visit her website at to find daily doses of inspirations with daily meditations and articles designed to help you create the positive mindset you need to create abundance in your own life.