It’s not charisma. It’s not intellect. It’s not the ability to memorize content. All those characteristics are great, but they do not account for success in the “magic circle.” The answer is this: successful presenters make the time to speak in public; they don’t find the time to speak in public. They make the time to practice; they don’t find the time to practice.
Accomplished presenters are intentional. They yell, “I’ll do it!” when a speaking opportunity arises. They schedule time to develop their key messages and block off time on their calendar to practice – actually standing up and speaking into a mirror or video recorder. I know one presenter who types in the name of a customer on his Outlook calendar so none of his co-workers will ask him to change his schedule to attend a last-minute meeting. Works like a charm. Nothing anyone can ask him to do will be more important.
The thing about time is we never seem to have enough of it, yet we have all there is. We are either in the driver’s seat or the back seat, getting car sick. I have become less tolerant of clients whose first words, as they rush in the door, are, “I’m sorry, I was going to prepare for this coaching session, but the time got away from me.” Now I interpret those words to mean, “I don’t really want to do this presentation,” or “I don’t really care about this presentation.” Last spring, when I coached an MBA candidate who decided to audition for commencement speaker, I could not keep up with his requests for coaching sessions and videotape feedback. He was organized, focused, and driven. It changed my perspective on what it means to nail the presentation, the job interview, or the keynote.
So next time you put a presentation on your calendar, ask yourself: will you make time to succeed or will you try to find time to succeed? And the next time you hear an opportunity to speak in public – whether it’s to introduce a speaker, present a project update, make a toast, or wrap up a meeting, will you jump at it or put your head down?
By my calculation, there are four months left in the calendar year. What were your goals last January? Labor Day is always a wonderful milestone for re-committing to our goals. Make the time and you will make progress. Until then, enjoy the final days of summer, when letting the time get away from you does wonders for the soul!