Speaking Lesson From an NFL Hall of Famer
The day after speaking at a TED X Cincinnati audition, I read the following quote:
“I love to play football on Sunday. In fact, I do that for nothing. They pay me for the practices during the week.” ~ Sam Huff, Hall of Fame NFL Player
Each day for the previous week-and-a-half, I had been intensely preparing for that 2-1/2 minute talk.
Sam Huff’s words resonate because I love to speak – and coach others to speak – to share messages that change the perspective of an audience. I’d do it for nothing – in fact, I often have. The presentation, that time on stage, is the ‘glamorous’ part of the business.
What Are The Payoffs of Speaking?
The work aspect, and the reason a speaker gets paid, comes from the time you invest before you speak – honing your message, practicing your delivery, and internalizing your presentation. By the way, the payoff isn’t always a check. There are many other types – a chance to meet prospective clients, speaking at a favorite charitable organization which needs an uplifting message, or an opportunity to promote an idea you’ve developed.
Most, if not all, Hall of Fame athletes became that way because they put in the work between games, and in the offseason. Performing the same drills over and over, making adjustments, and studying their craft.
What Makes Successful People Stand OUT?
There seems to be a prevailing thought that successful people LOVE all the hard work and sacrifice they put in. My research convinces me that, for the most part, this is a myth. They don’t love the tedious and monotonous work any more than you.
What’s different about them is their FOCUS. The legendary Muhammed Ali once said, “I hated every minute of training. But I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”
That sums up the credo of most successful people. They might not go so far as to say they ‘suffered’ the way Mr. Ali described, but there were many other activities they’d prefer to be doing other than training or rehearsing. They don’t have a special gift that makes them love this hard work.
What they do have is the strength and conviction to focus on the end result. It’s about the prize at the end.
When I received notice that I was accepted for the TED X Cincinnati audition, I had 11 days to make it ‘stage ready.’ Not an eternity, but my talk needed a lot of work. I didn’t really want to get in my car every day, drive through the rain and traffic, speak to yet another group for just 2-1/2 minutes, get their (sometimes painful) feedback, drive back to the office, listen to the audio recording, revise the talk, re-type it, send it to my coaches, review THEIR feedback, and then repeat the process. Somehow, long ago, the example of successful people inspired me to do the work with regard to public speaking. I’m eternally grateful for that lesson.
Look For Additional Benefits of Your Work
Before closing, there were two unexpected benefits from the TED x audition experience. I was reminded of the emotional ups and downs my clients experience when I send them off to make changes to their speeches after a coaching session. Improving a speech usually isn’t fun. Just when you think your message is ready, someone you trust tells you “Uhh, this part doesn’t really make sense to me.” Ahhhhh!
The other benefit is that my audition speech can be used in workshops and seminars on storytelling, as well as keynote speeches. I didn’t anticipate that new and better material would come from the experience.
As you prepare your next presentation, think about the words of Sam Huff. What is your Big Prize? The speech you give to the audience is your version of ‘Football Sunday’’ – the part you love the most. Keep that end result picture at the forefront of your mind, and the time you put in before that will lift you to higher levels of achievement. And, you, too, might pick up some unexpected additional benefits.
Recommended Resource of the Week:
‘THE Book on Storytelling.’
This step-by-step guide shows you how to craft and deliver stories that:
- Increase your confidence
- Attract more qualified clients
- Inspire others to act on your message
- Help you accomplish more, faster
- Create deeper levels of trust, in less time
- Have more fun when you give presentations
Learn how the best speakers, storytellers and leaders develop and deliver stories that immediately grab audience attention, keep them on the edge of their seats, and inspire them to act on your message.
2000 World Champion of Public Speaking, Ed Tate, CSP says about this book: “This book is outstanding! It will be my new #1 storytelling resource.”
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