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I accepted a speaking engagement for next month, but now I’m regretting it. It’s a panel presentation with three other lawyers speaking. It won’t really matter if I tell them a conflict came up, will it?

Q: I accepted a speaking engagement for next month, but now I’m regretting it. It’s a panel presentation with three other lawyers speaking. It won’t really matter if I tell them a conflict came up, will it?

A: Mark Twain once said: “There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.” If you back out by making up an excuse, you’ll fall into both categories.

If the panel moderator does a good job, your job as a panelist will be easier than being a solo presenter. I suggest you keep the engagement to gain speaking experience to help you press past your jitters.

If, however, you really cannot, then see if a colleague would like to fill your shoes, and offer that possibility to the person who invited you. Many lawyers would love such an opportunity, so if the moderator takes you up on the substitution, you’ve made lemonade.