As a few of you know, I “speak for a living” and have been known to shoot from the hip.
I consider myself to be a non-linear speaker by design 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 only one thing. They can’t finish a sentence for me because where they think I may be going may not be where I end up.
That being said, I thought I’d share this with you… as it crosses my mind.
Once upon a time I was slated to serve as the Closing Keynote Presenter at an important corporate conference. I was very excited about this opportunity and I was looking forward to it. I had 40-minutes to “change the world for the better.”
I would assume 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 all be poised and prepared to say in unison, “Who is this guy?”
I would begin to speak, and time would tell what would happen in the following 40-minutes. I would become a human dartboard and hope that the audience found no immediate need to cast any hurtful darts in my direction. Again, only time would tell.
But my giving a speech is not today’s lesson. Proper preparation is.
Prior to “speech time,” I completed writing 12-pages of my speech. I then 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, editing, adding and tweaking where necessary. Again, I allowed a breathing spell before rewriting my speech a third time.
Once comfortable with it, I would read it to myself ten or twenty times before feeling that the ideas and sequence of events was being internalized to memory… sort of. Only then would I cast my fate to the wind. I would deliver my talk without any notes, crib sheets, slides or support… appearing to the audience like all professional presenters that have the “gift-of-gab” and can “wing” their way through most stressful situations.
The truth was, I had prepared thoroughly and could concentrate on having fun. The hard part was over. I could now deliver my message seamlessly.
And so it goes with your “speeches” 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 the content. Give it the time it deserves up front.
This is how professionals do it. This is how you do it. This is how overnight successes do it… with hours of focused practice.
P.S. – 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.”
Having been reared in the Garden State of New Jersey, I will share with you our translation to this observation.
“You would be good at sales. You are full of baloney!”
Mike Marchev is always looking for a few more proactive travel professionals to join his Sales and Marketing Club. Send for details.