Many people fear making presentations. That’s why they’re not very good at them. I subscribe to James Malinchak’s ezine. It’s always full of interesting anecdotes. A couple of days ago, James told a very interesting story about a conversation he had with Michael Jordan. He posed the following scenario to Michael…
“It’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals and your team is playing on the road at your opponents’ place. There’s 00:01 second left on the clock and your team is losing by 1 point. You’re at the free-throw line to shoot two shots. This is literally win or lose time, and the ball is in your hands. If you make both free throws, your team wins their first ever championship. If you miss both, your team loses the championship. How would you feel?”
Michael Jordan’s response…
“That’s easy! That situation wouldn’t bother me because I would have already disciplined myself to make sure I had already prepared for success in that, or any other situation!”
James went on to say…
“Not the answer I was expecting, but it’s very profound when you think about those two words that most would rather simply skim over: 1) Disciplined; and 2) Prepared. The more I thought about those two words, the more I began to realize just how important they are for becoming a successful speaker, author, trainer or coach! Most people are not disciplined to prepare themselves for success.”
James is on to something here. Disciplined preparation is the key to becoming a dynamic communicator. I teach my coaching clients a five-point model of presentation success. The fifth point is “practice, practice, practice.” I suggest practicing your talk out loud using your visuals. I suggest doing this as many times as it takes to become 100% comfortable with what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.
When I say this I am often met with frowns and a lot of excuses about not having the time to do the kind of preparation I suggest.
And that’s why many people suck at presenting. In Michael Jordan and James Malinchak’s words, they don’t have the personal discipline to prepare for a successful presentation. And without disciplined preparation it’s basically impossible to do a good presentation.
Cathy and I were in Florida last year to celebrate our niece, Morgan’s, wedding. Cathy was hosting a bridesmaid luncheon. The night before the luncheon, she practiced the welcoming talk she was going to give at the luncheon at least five times. And you know what? It got better every time she practiced it. She practiced one more time the morning of the luncheon, and she had it down cold. She disciplined herself to prepare for her talk. She was ready to do it. And she gave a killer talk. Good for her.
Cathy often accompanies me when I travel. If I am doing a talk the next day, she knows my ritual before going to bed. I will practice my talk – out loud – at least twice, and as many times as it takes for me to feel that I have it perfected. It takes a little bit of time to practice like this, but the audience applause and, more important, my feeling of satisfaction after delivering a great talk are worth it.
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are dynamic communicators. Dynamic communicators are good presenters. They follow the career advice in Success Tweet 119. “Discipline yourself to prepare for presentations. Practice out loud until you are totally in sync with what you’re going to say.” As Michael Jordan and James Malinchak point out, disciplined preparation is a key to success in any endeavor – from basketball to business. Disciplined preparation is especially important to becoming a great presenter. If you want to become a great presenter, discipline yourself to prepare for your talks by practicing – out loud and with your visuals – until you are totally in sync with what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.