Monday, July 13, 2009

More from Coach Bowman

Listen to this interview with swim coach Bob Bowman, who I wrote about in my last post. Coach Bowman, among other things, is the coach of Michael Phelps.

In the interview, Bowman talks about what swimmers and their coaches should (and should not) do right before the race:

Note: There are some annoucements before the interview - but it's worth the wait.

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

By focuses on a technical detail - the process of success - rather than on the end result, the swimmer keeps his/her attention fully in the present moment - not on the larger meaning of the event.

Bowman's message can apply beautifully to speaking:

From the Green Room: Right before you get up to speak, try not to focus on the broader significance of what you are about to do (e.g. my career depends on this, I have worked so hard to get to this moment). Instead focus on something one technical reminder. (e.g. Breathe. Keep feet planted. Smile.)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Price of Not Being There

In last week's Washington Post Sports section, Amy Shipley recounts swimmer Katie Hoff's surprisingly disappointing race, "more than 10 seconds off her personal best."

The article groups together a number unfortunate circumstance including her recent illness, missed training time, and the fact that she is working on her stroke.

But at the end of this list, she quotes Hoff's coach, Bob Bowman. (who incidentally is also Michael Phelps coach)

"Physical problems are not her only ones," he said, "She was just not there, probably psychologically and physically."

What can speakers learn from this?

No matter what baggage you bring to the table, take a few moments before you speak to get yourself present.

Do your Green Room Trigger.
Take deep breaths.
Feel your feet firmly planted on the ground.

Do whatever it takes for you to get in the here and now.

Simply being there - being present - can be the difference between stumbling over your stumbling blocks, or as the saying goes, using them as stepping stones - and thus reaching to even greater heights.