As many of you know, I “shoot/speak from the hip” so to speak.
I pride myself in being a non-linear speaker who usually ends up talking about what is shooting through his mind at the moment. This is both good and bad. It is what it is.
I can assure my audiences of one thing, they can’t finish a sentence for me because where they think I may be going may not be where I am going. Follow me?
That being understood, I thought I’d share this with you … as it crosses my mind. Once upon a time I was driving down to Ft. Lauderdale to serve as the Closing Keynote Presenter at a large travel industry conference. I was very excited about this opportunity and was looking forward to it. I had 40 minutes to “change the world.”
I was planning on taking my starting position with empty hands and no need for supportive slides or a teleprompter. I would take a deep breath and look out at the 1500 people who would be poised and prepared to say in unison, “Who is this guy?”
I would begin to speak and only time would tell what would happen in the following 40 minutes. Would I become a human dartboard and hope the audience wouldn’t find an immediate need to cast their darts in my direction. Again, only time would tell.
The lesson today involves the planning that went on prior to my taking the stage and letting my words fly where they may. I wrote six pages of thoughts and ideas which I might have inserted into my speech. Maybe.
I gave the entire speech to myself on paper complete with smiley faces and double exclamation points. I then allowed those pages to “breathe.” I went back and rewrote the entire speech adding and tweaking where necessary. Again I allowed it to breathe before rewriting my speech a third time.
Once comfortable with it, I read it to myself ten or twenty times before feeling that the ideas and sequence were accurately embedded in my memory … sort of. I then cast my fate to the wind. I delivered my talk without any notes, crib sheets, slides or support.
I prepared the best I could and then concentrated on having fun. As my college football coach reminded us every Friday afternoon, “The hay is in the barn.”
Back then the team (me included) had no idea what the old guy was talking about, but now I know what he was trying to tell us. The hard work was over. It was time to play some football.
And so it goes with your speeches and/or presentations with prospects and clients. Perhaps you should begin your preparation by jotting down your thoughts and areas that you wish to address. Polish this document a tad and then practice like the professional you are.
When a prospect enters the arena, you will be prepared and ready to deal with just about anything that pops up.
This is how professionals do it. This is how you do it. This is how overnight successes do it … with hours of focused practice.
PS. To this day one of the biggest slurs one can receive is when somebody suggests that “you would be good at sales because you have the gift-of-gab.”
Professionals don’t “gab.” We practice, rehearse, and help people in many ways.
Mike Marchev freely shares his experiences, strategies and observations with travel professionals in an effort to keep them on top of their game. For a complimentary copy of his 12-Word Marketing Plan send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike’s daily column is made possible by AmaWaterways.