I recently had the chance to join our most recent podcast guest and master storyteller, Jonathan Garber on a short leadership workshop he hosted. True to the spirit of everything Jonathan discussed in our podcast, the leadership workshop had a tremendous amount of value and lessons to provide. What ended up standing out the most, to me, was the reality of public speaking vs the clinical setting we practice in.
Allow me to explain.
Most of us, when we build out presentations and practice our messaging, do so in a ‘sterile’ environment. Sterile, meaning, an environment very much set up for us to succeed. We’ll likely practice in a quiet spot. We’ll practice what we’re going to say and how we’re going to say it. We’ll practice (if we’re smart) enough to be able to work out what cadence we’d like to use, what words we’ll emphasize and the points that are most important to make. Overall, our practice will be structured in a bubble.
Funny enough, reality doesn’t operate in a bubble and it’s rarely as structured as we’d like. Reality is dirty, not sterile. It’s loud. It’s uncertain. How we’ll start, who is sitting down, who is listening, who is distracted, where we will stand, will we have our resources, will the technology work….dirty, dirty, dirty. There’s a number of variables that will come into play and Jonathan, just like his storytelling was able to masterfully illustrate that to a room full of professionals.
Stand up. Speak. About anything! Simple instructions. 90 seconds, you’ve got this. Now, your audience has instructions. Some members will be asking questions, some will ignore you, some will distract the others, some will know everything, some will know nothing, all will challenge you. All will dirty up that perfectly sterile environment you prepared for!
Preparation is key. Preparation can never be skipped or ignored. And preparation alone, it’s not enough. You need to be able to improvise.
When your technology not working, how will you adapt? Audience isn’t all ready when you start the presentation, what now? What will you do when someone steps into the room mid sentence? What do you say when a waiter spills a beverage on an audience member? In these instances, among many others, you need to be able to improvise.
Ask someone to list 10 essential skills for a business owner or service based professional. Ask 100 someone’s. How many do you believe would list improvisation? Maybe you’ll be the 1st. You’ll certainly be the best prepared for whatever the world throws at you if you identify this as an essential skill to master.
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