Nerd alert: My two guilty-pleasure television shows right now are “American Idol” and “World of Dance”. I admit it. I’m kind of obsessed. Both programs center on very talented, dedicated amateurs competing for the top prizes, which include cars, cash, and most importantly, a guaranteed career boost. It’s exciting to watch the performers grow in skill and confidence over the course of the season, thanks, in part, to the skilled coaching they receive from various professionals and the celebrity judges.
The coach in me loves to see the competitors take in and apply the coaching they receive, of course, but what I really notice is the sheer determination that some competitors show when they step into that spotlight. We can see it and feel it. The judges will often comment: “Wow, she really wants this!” or “He’s in this thing to win it!”
This brings me to you, my fellow presenters! I have and will continue to help hundreds of you improve your skill and confidence in presentations, and it’s thrilling when I see you grow and thrive. However, I continue to see many of you neglect, postpone or give short-shrift to your presentation prep and practice. I understand the pressure of competing deadlines and back-to-back meetings, believe me. I lived it for decades. But when you present, you are just like one of the competitors on “American Idol”. You’re putting your stuff out there for everyone to see and judge, and they will judge. It’s not just about your technical competence. (In Idol terms they know you can hit that high note.) But that’s not enough: Not on Idol, and not in your workplace. They’ll be looking at your ability to connect with your audience, to influence and inspire, to persuade, to align. They’ll assess your confidence and commitment, too. And they’ll use their judgments, consciously or unconsciously, when it’s time to hand out the big prizes. You know what the big prize is.
So here’s my question: How Much Do You Want It?
- Are you willing to put yourself and your career first?
- Are you ready to push through the self-consciousness that comes with practicing out loud?
- Are you able to confront your own ego and acknowledge presentations as performances, worthy of practice?
- Can you recognize your assumption that “This isn’t that important” as an excuse?
We all have limited time to devote to any one thing, however, we do get to decide how we use our time. If you want the big prize, invest in yourself.
Why do I watch those two shows? Same reason that I coach you: Because I love to watch what happens when people really commit to something. It’s magical.