When we talk about preparation we often tell our clients 'Amateurs practice until they get it right, professionals practice until they can't get it wrong'.
Of course, you can't always do a full rehearsal of every pitch or meeting. What you can do is practice the first 60 seconds, five times, out loud, at the pace you will be speaking. It will only take you 5 minutes.
If you don't you may experience the stage fright that Hollywood director Michael Bay had recently.
This was initially blamed on the teleprompter. In fact, it was later explained as nerves due to lack of preparation time. Remember, before you start any meeting, pitch or presentation you must always think about:
- what are the 3 main points I must make?
- how do I want the audience to feel about this message?
People will forgive you for making a mistake. 'To err is human'. They won't forgive you for wasting their time through a lack of preparation.
If you feel nervous there are three things that will help you:
- control and slow down your breathing (to burn adrenaline through oxygen)
- slow down the pace (to give you time to think)
- stand centered, it will lower your cortisol (reduce your stress hormone)
For proof of this, you can watch two more Hollywood greats in action. Recently Jonah Hill was asked to host Saturday Night Live. He started the show with the pretense of being nervous, with a high breath, high pitch and swaying from side-to-side. Then Leonardo DiCaprio comes on, showing how to have gravitas, by standing centered, using stillness, controlled breath and even using the 'BBC hands' method we teach.
So for your next important meeting, create your impact. Remember the three key points you need to make, consider how you need people to feel about them, then control your delivery.
That way if the tele-prompter breaks, the projector explodes, or you leave your notes in the car, you can still do your job. You are not there to give people technical jargon or an update. You can do that by email. You are there to change the way they feel about your message.