This is a question I got while traveling in Australia a couple of weeks ago. It is also a question I get pretty regularly, so it’s time to write about it. If it happens to you, what does the little voice in your head say to you?
Some people have to give the same presentations over and over again at work. Some speakers give the same speech over and over again in a speech contest. You know when you are getting sick of it. I used to, but not anymore. I think it comes down to two major issues.
First, it’s usually not the speech that is the problem. It’s probably your topic selection. Unless you are giving a speech that your job requires, you get to choose your own topic. Why did you choose the one you are sick of? Where did the idea start?
I’m not saying I’m perfect or that I do not have an off day. I do. If you read my articles, you know I talk about my coach, Mark Brown, a great deal. Why? The lessons I learned from him back in 2001 still go with me every time I take the stage.
If you are tired of giving the speech, ask yourself how much you care about helping people learn the lesson or know the wisdom you have to share. When I was starting to create my “Ouch!” speech, Mark asked me to think about a child in my life. I do not have any children, so I chose my eldest nephew, Michael. Then Mark asked,
“If you were going to die tomorrow, what one lesson did you learn from your life that you would want to pass on to Michael to help him through his life?”
This forced me to go deeper.
The cool thing about picking a topic you are passionate about is that you will always be researching more and looking for new ways to make it even better. That way it has a life of its own and keeps growing. It can’t get old if you care about people and your message. I have been giving my presentation called “How I Went from Chump to Champ” since 2001. I really want people to know about the habits that my mentors helped me create that have served me well.
The basis of the presentation remains the same, but if you compared today’s version with the 2001 version, wow! It would be the difference between night and day. Some people liked it back then. Resolve to let the topic that you care deeply about evolve, and you will not be getting sick of it. Instead, you’ll be excited to give it again in its improved form.
Second, revisit your intention, especially if you have no control over the topic and it is part of your career or duty. Maybe you forgot your intention or forgot to have fun! Being on stage can usually be fun, but if you’re not having a good time, no one else will be either.
If giving the same presentation over and over is part of your job, you have to ask yourself a question: “Did I ever enjoy giving it?” If you did, what changed? Every job may have some parts that you do not enjoy. Can you find the fun again? I would rather do a tough audience with no microphone than have to punch a clock. I don’t mind 18-hour days, but punch a card? No thanks. If you always disliked presenting, maybe you need a new job.
What is your intention for giving the speech? If it is to win a speech contest, then you are taking each live practice as just that, preparing for one day. Nope! Stop! There are real live people in front of you at each presentation. Help them. Everyone has a challenge or two that they carry with them each day. Make your secret ingredient a dose of hope, no matter what you are talking about. Click To Tweet
What helped me refocus on my intention was more advice from Mark. (He’s good!) He suggested that even when giving what some people call a practice speech, put your nephew Michael in the fourth row. Give the speech to him, and just let everyone else eavesdrop. Wow, that helped me immensely!
If I were a dog, I’d be a Golden Retriever. I love to please. Happy event planners plus happy inspired people equal a happy Darren. It usually works best when my intention comes from a deeper place.
For the most part, the words that ring in my mind come from Mark Brown. When I was preparing for my contest speech and he saw me focusing too much on the trophy. he said,
“Darren, you will have the privilege of 2,000 lives for seven minutes. What will you do with that?”
The cool thing about what Mark said is that I carry it with me to the stage almost every time. It helps me set a great intention, and I remind myself that this may be the only time I get the privilege of inspiring and influencing someone here today.
Look, I remember hearing a speaker on the main stage at a National Speakers Conference back in the 90’s say something to the effect of, “Look, if you are taking for granted your privilege of the platform, get out of the business! Open up a slot for someone who is excited to serve the audience. There is a long line of people who would love the opportunity you have been given.”
I think that says it all. What do you think?
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