Yesterday, I learned an important lesson about a major pitfall of public speaking - not from watching someone else, but from my own mistake.
I was teaching a class (not about speaking) and realized about 20 minutes beforehand that I was unprepared. I thought I had done enough work. I thought I knew what I was doing.
What I realized was that I had not taken ownership over my content. And it was too late to do anything about it.
I tell my clients that if you are crystal clear about your message - if you really know what you want the audience to understand, then the delivery just flows.
And if you don't? It's much harder to overcome anxiety - especially if you are asked to convey real information.
This is what happened to me yesterday.
My heart raced. My palms got sweaty. I panicked.
I made it through the class, but I felt pretty miserable afterward.
I am grateful to have had this experience, as it reinforced for me the absolute importance not just of knowing your material, but of distilling it into a clear and focused message.
I was reminded of an earlier post on this blog - Be A Starfish Speaker. I wrote:
Visualize your presentation as a starfish. Your central message is the middle and your main points radiate our from there. If you get off track, just return back to the center.
I was unable to return to the center, because I hadn't yet solidified my core message.
Yesterday I broke my own rule and I paid the price.
From the Green Room: There is simply no substitute for preparation. Even if you are a speech trainer.