Check all that apply:
- You find yourself fine-tuning your remarks at midnight before the big presentation
- You are still fiddling with your deck ten minutes before the presentation is to begin
- You find yourself tripping on your words because you are trying so hard to remember exactly the way you wrote it out the night before
- Your anxiety level is in the red zone right before (and possibly during) the presentation
- You feel that if you over-prepare you will do a better job
- The thought of putting everything away 24 hours before the presentation gives you agita
How many bullets did you check? Three or more and you may just be a prepare-anoid. If so, how’s it working for ya? Does the thought of anxiety-free speaking sound like a pipe dream? It is possible. But not easy.
You have gotten to this place because somewhere along the line your over-preparing has paid off. Your commitment to quality, and not letting your teammates down has been rewarded with promotions or bonuses, or genuine appreciation. So you just think you’ll do the same thing with presentations. Yet you find that you’re not “hitting it out of the park” every time.
Unless you have a photographic memory (and even then), trying to memorize full paragraphs is a recipe for disaster. Audiences want to like you and relate to you. They want you to solve their problem. Your earnest efforts to recite verbatim messages is preventing those things from happening.
Our suggestion for card-carrying prepare-anoids is to start small. How about shutting down your computer and closing your notebook at 9:00 the night before? That’s not too painful, is it? Then, when that gets easier, try adding more down time, say 6:00 the night before. Spend those extra hours doing whatever makes you happy and relaxed. Let everything you have prepared simmer on low so that all the flavor can be brought out of the ingredients.
Your teammates will thank you, your audience will thank you, and your stress hormones will wonder what happened to you.