I remember in my first year of University, I had to give a presentation in front of my biology class. Right as I went up to the front of the class, I realized my precious cue-cards with my script were out of order. I felt the blood rush to my face as my skin turned beet red and my words trembled as they left my nervous lips. 

Fast forward many years, and the Conconi Family Foundation had two abstracts submissions accepted, meaning I had the opportunity to present at the 52nd Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting hosted by the Canadian Association of Gerontology. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had many other presentations between now and my first year of university biology fiasco, but majority of them were over zoom. Presenting over zoom can be intimidating, but it’s much easier to pretend you’re presenting to just yourself. 

But presenting in person? A completely different league.   

After finding out I would be presenting at the CAG conference, I was excited. I thought it was an incredible opportunity to talk about the really interesting work we’re doing at the Foundation, however, as the date crept up, the more the nerves set in, and the flashbacks of horrific experiences of public speaking filled my mind. I found myself digging myself into this hole of nervousness and focusing on what could go wrong, instead of focusing on how this would go well.  

After I noticed that I was letting this mindset override the excitement of the experience, I told myself to cut it out. The worst thing that could happen was that I messed up the script, and if that’s the case, I can slow down, backup and start again. Once I started to think from this perspective, I was able to calm the nerves and the negative voice in my head. 

On the day of the first presentation, I walked up to the podium to do the opening slides. While I still had a level of nerves, it was manageable. To my surprise, I felt confident. While my voice had a slight shake, the presentation went well. 

Now, how does this relate to philanthropy? My biggest connection between this experience and philanthropy is to embrace getting uncomfortable. Taking risks in philanthropy can be scary, and make you nervous, similar to the feeling before a big presentation or board meeting, however the outcome from that experience can make the moments of discomfort absolutely worth it. Of course still do your due diligence, and recognize risk, but don’t let the risk or your fear stop you from embracing new opportunities.  

All my best, 


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