Speaking is like a hurdles race, appears to be a random statement. Performing of any kind: whether it be an event at the Olympics or presenting to the board.
With any performance, there are challenges and hurdles to negotiate, in order to be successful – and what is success???
The fabulous Colin Jackson is now known as a television commentator for BBC, but he was a world champion hurdler, silver medalist in the 110metres hurdles and a former world record holder. For a few years Jackson wanted to be “the best hurdler” and focused on his technique – which was apparently excellent. However he wouldn’t win important championship races. Why? Well he was focusing on his technique and being ‘best’ at getting over the hurdles without rattling them. I BET he would let his mind wander to the previous hurdle if he tapped it, rather than thinking forward.
It was only when he changed his attitude, or *buzzword alert* mindset, that he began to seriously win championship races. Instead of wanting to be the best hurdler, he focused on being THE FASTEST. So why did this make a difference?? He was beginning to focus on the finishing line, rather than the details of the race.
Colin was the same hurdler, but instead of focusing on the little details and worrying if he made a mistake with a hurdle, he JUST focused the finish line. Of course he would have made mistakes when hurdling; taping the hurdles, another hurdler waving their arms in his direction, not starting as fast as he might etc. Let’s remember, he was already a world class hurdler and elite athlete, but changing his attitude made the difference with his performance, resulting in him becoming a champion!
So how does this relate to speaking or presenting? It is very easy to get put off by a mistake: perhaps you forget where you are in a presentation, or someone comes into the room late, which distracts the audience. Possibly there is a problem with the technical support (the video or presentation slides won’t work), or everyone looks grumpy – or is looking at their phones. As a musician, I have approached performances in the same way as elite athletes – as musicians do. Namely that you practice, practice, practice, and when you go on for the performance, you just focus on the delivery.
So how can we relate this to a public speaking engagement or presentation:
- Ensure you know your speech or presentation INSIDE OUT.
- Practise it many, many times.
- Check all of your equipment and the technical side (microphones/sound) are working before your speech.
- It is okay to make mistakes and not be perfect.
- If someone interrupts you or comes into the room late, don’t get put off. Remember, you are focused on the ‘finishing line’.
- The Olympian Michael Johnson says “Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t”. In other words, if you know your speech or presentation and have checked everything, use that to maintain confidence.
- If you make a mistake, continue without stumbling or apologising.
- Make sure the end of your speech is strong so you can cross the finishing line memorably rather than stumbling over.
Good luck. If you would like to discuss our public speaking and presentation training packages Contact us to arrange a complimentary consultation.