Do You Speak With the Preparation of an NFL Star Player?
I’m a big fan of American football. Watching the first weekend of the NFL season was a reminder of the value of speech preparation.
There were an astounding number of mistakes made in the first week of regular season play.
In the last decade, preparation for an NFL regular season has undergone a drastic change. Preseason games used to be an opportunity for players to prepare their minds and bodies. This would get them ‘game-ready’ for the contests that count.
Then came the age of huge contracts. Teams started protecting many of their starting players in the preseason. Today, backup players get plenty of game experience. But, regulars aren’t always getting properly conditioned. The first couple of regular season games are, in essence, their preparation games.
The Cost of Lack of Preparation
In those games, players often aren’t in rhythm with their teammates. Their mistakes are frequent, and, in an ironic twist, many also get injured.
What does the NFL have to do with speaking?
It’s the perfect example of the importance of preparation. Too often, I’ve watched speakers who haven’t prepared for their audience. They often write their talks too late (if at all). They’ve probably done no research on the organization they speak to. And the lack of rehearsal is obvious.
Like in the NFL, unprepared speakers aren’t comfortable, they don’t find a rhythm, and can’t focus on the audience. Although physical injury isn’t likely – there can be damage done – to your reputation and your confidence.
What is the best way to prepare to speak?
Know the expectations of the people who bring you in to speak. Does your message align with their theme, and what they want you to provide?
Write out your material. Don’t do this to memorize your speech. Writing it allows you to see the flow of your ideas and the structure of the talk. Also, it’s good to see all your words on paper. Some phrases which look good on paper don’t sound good to the ear.
Practice, drill and rehearse. Ideally, you’ll speak before live audiences. Nothing can replicate speaking before people. Additionally, you can specify the type of feedback you’d like them to provide.
If possible, arrive at the venue early. Practice in the area where you’ll speak. Even if you can’t rehearse out loud, get a feel for the room. Know where unusual noises or trouble-spots are in the speaking area.
Additionally, sit in each corner of the room to determine what the audience’s perspective will be.
When you invest the time to prepare your talk, you are acting like a professional. Do this, and you can avoid the fate of many NFL players who begin their seasons unprepared.
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