When I first entered corporate America, many years ago. I worked in a career that I thought would allow me to interact with a diverse group of people. Little did I know that part of my job responsibilities also included giving presentations to large groups. The only experience I had in public speaking was a speech class I took at a community college in which I barely received a B.
I recall the early days when my supervisor forced me to speak in front of a crowd. My voice cracked, I was covered in sweat and my heart raced a million miles a minute. Years later, I "mastered" the art of public speaking. My presentations were so perfected that I would receive countless compliments on how well it went. I even had people come up to me afterward asking if I could coach them on becoming a better speaker. A couple years ago, I attended a success conference. During the break, I told the woman hosting the conference a story about how I was introduced to her organization. Unbeknownst to me, she randomly invited me up on the stage to share my story with her audience as an illustration of her effective marketing strategies. I got up, grabbed the mic off the stand, said a few words, and sat down. Later during the break, a few people came up and praised me about my stage presence and speaking voice. This happened multiple times over the two-day conference.
When I tell people that I used to be afraid to talk in front of an audience, they're shocked! They immediately ask me what I did to become the confident speaker I am today. The answer is simple and can be summed up with one word.
The reason why I used to trip over my words and lose my train of thought in front of an audience is because I tried to speak eloquently on the spot. I hadn't learned how to become an effective speaker yet I used "in the moment" situations for practice. This isn't an effective strategy at all (especially if you aren't skilled). The difference between preparing adequately for a presentation vs. being unprepared is like comparing Beyonce's show to Mariah Carey's New Year's Eve performance.
Let's be honest, although Mariah experienced technical difficulties, you could still tell that little preparation was done to fine-tune her performance. For every spectacular show you've ever witnessed, know that countless hours of preparation was required to create that outcome.
Today's article isn't about public speaking, it's about the power of preparation. By making preparedness a priority, I completely transformed my greatest weakness into my strongest skill.
"Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance" was the mantra his mentor lived by. The moment I heard those words, I resonated with how true they were.
The mentor's request was that he always prepare the night before because "the guy who's the most prepared wins."
-Prepare the Sunday before
-Prepare the week before
-Prepare the night before
"Everything is about preparation!"
I'll be honest with you. I don't do a great job of preparing for the day. Sure, I mentally create a list of a few things to do, but is that preparation or am I simply planning?
Preparation involves a much more detailed process than planning. In a lot of cases, preparation actually involves real work. I can honestly say that I didn't do any real work to prepare for today. I set some simple intentions and that was it. Today might still go well, but I'll be winging it as I go along.
Winging it is like gambling with success. Preparation ensures it.
It's time to figure out how to incorporate daily preparation into my rituals. In the past, I heard the suggestion to visualize your entire day the night before. Doing so increases the likelihood that your day will go as planned. Once you visualize the day, start the preparation process to help ensure that you follow the path you envisioned. Any part of your life where you continue to struggle day after day, ask yourself if there's any prep work you can do to avoid experiencing the same outcome.
There's so much I can do in this area of daily preparation and I'm pretty excited to explore it. If I experience even a fraction of the results that I got in improving my public speaking, it'll all be worth it.
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