The Quest for Perfection
My client said a phrase I’ve heard countless times:
“Michael, I really want to perfect my speech.”
It’s a mantra repeated by many speakers, even professionals.
The thought process is that if you rehearse enough, your speech will be flawless. You’ll captivate your audience from start to finish.
But the ”perfect” speech is unrealistic. It can also be detrimental to your speaking growth and impact.
The Perfection Paradox And It’s Costs
Call this the “Perfection Paradox.” It’s the belief that the more you strive for a perfect speech, the better your presentation will be. This can lead to problems that undermine your communication effectiveness.
What’s the cost of this paradox?
1. No connection with the audience
Every person in your audience has one common trait—each is flawed and imperfect. So are you. If you look and sound like a perfect individual, listeners will tune you out because you’re not like them, and they will not like that.
2. It’s not realistic
Think about the most memorable presentations you’ve heard. Didn’t they feel like that speaker was talking directly to you?
You can’t achieve this effect if you are focused on perfection. It’s vital to know your presentation well enough that it flows out of you. But if you memorize every word and movement, you lose spontaneity and authenticity. Your presentations will be less engaging.
3. Poor Performance
The self-imposed pressure to deliver a perfect speech can lead to crippling anxiety. You’ll be caught up in your thoughts and focus on specific words, and won’t be present. Audiences will sense this, and you’ll lose your chance to positively influence them.
4. Loss of Adaptability
Being overly scripted or memorized makes it difficult to adapt to the unexpected. This includes challenging questions, technical glitches, or last-minute adjustments. If people sense you can’t handle challenges while delivering a speech, they’ll think they can’t trust you when you’re under pressure in other situations.
5. Missed Opportunities
When you aim for perfection, you’re less likely to take risks or try new techniques. This limits your growth as a communicator and leader. It damages your reputation and could limit the growth of your career or company.
Popular Solutions and Why They Don’t Work
- Script Memorization: Some speakers believe memorizing their speech word-for-word will ensure a flawless delivery. While this can help with nerves, it often results in a robotic performance that lacks emotional connection with the audience. Also, if you forget a word or sentence in the middle of your speech, your stress levels will spike as you search to get back on script.”
- Over-rehearsing: The belief is that the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Practice is essential, but over-rehearsing can make the speech feel stale and rob it of spontaneity. This makes it difficult to engage the audience.
- Endless Tweaking: Some speakers can’t resist the urge to make last-minute changes, thinking that one more adjustment will make their speech perfect. This usually backfires because when you’re delivering to the audience, you may forget your most recent tweaks. This can cause you to forget the entire presentation, which shoots your stress levels through the roof. It also increases the likelihood you’re going to make more errors during the presentation.
How About You?
Have you ever aimed for a “perfect” speech and had it backfire?
What actions did you take that didn’t work?
Are you struggling with the Perfection Paradox?
If so, let’s jump on a short Zoom call to discuss your situation. We’ll explore how you can shift your focus from perfection to connection. This will enable you to become a more confident, influential, and impactful communicator.
To schedule your call, click here.
Let go of the illusion of “perfect” speech. Instead, aim for a presentation that’s true to you. It will resonate with your audience and deliver value.
Remember, when you communicate, it’s not about perfection; it’s about connection.