Photo by Tim Parkinson

I tripped on one of those Most Awesome Business Books of 2011 lists that materialize in the month of December right along with inflatable Santas and those hideous LED lights.  One of the entries on the list caught my eye. It’s called Consider:  Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization.

Here is the author in his own words:  “Stepping away from the problem—and structuring time to think and reflect—just may prove the most powerful differentiator that allows your organization to remain relevant and survive.  Only by carving out [this time] can we actually understand, in an entirely different context, the actions we take.” Daniel Patrick Forrester goes on to say that reflection is where space is given for the ‘totally unexpected’ to emerge. Reflection can mean the difference between total success and total failure.

This is sage advice for public speakers – especially if you have a high-stakes presentation coming up.  We are so busy rushing around and doing three things at once that we never factor in the time to deeply consider our topic, our purpose, and our audience.  I’m reminded of the woman I saw in a movie theatre last weekend who was trying to eat popcorn, watch the movie and check her cell phone all at the same time. The popcorn ended up on the floor. She obviously has not read this book.

We tell our clients not to rush through the storyboard phase of the preparation process.Yet they invariably under-estimate how much time they need to flesh out their ideas.  The ones that do, though, send us updates like this one:

“The presentation was fantastic. Clapping afterwards and so many questions that people followed me into hall to ask more!”

This is my goal for 2012 – to stop being so busy that I run out of time to really think about my presentation and how best to meet the needs of my audience.  How about you?

– Barbara