What Could Athletes and Speakers Possibly Have in Common? - At The Podium
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What Could Athletes and Speakers Possibly Have in Common?

Being the tennis buff that I am, I’ve been trying to watch as much of the Australian Open tennis tournament as I can. There’s no doubt that I’d rather be playing than watching, but watching will have to do while it’s still too cold to play outside. I know I’m not the only sports fan watching TV these days too. Like so many others this past weekend, my television was flipping back and fort between tennis, football playoffs, and yes, even a bit of basketball too!
 
Watching all of this got me wondering about what athletes and speakers might have in common. After all, there are world-famous athletes and world-famous speakers. With athletes there are amateurs, intermediates, and pros. The same goes for speakers. Realizing that got me wondering what professional athletes might know about performing in front of a live audience that would be relevant to speakers too. I came up with three:
 
1. Pros Practice Like a Pro – Most professional athletes have a goal in mind, and they know that practicing the skills they’ll need to achieve their goal will definitely increases their odds of success. So they get very focused when it comes to practicing their skills, because focused practice builds confidence. This idea will work for speakers too. Fortunately, speakers don’t usually have to go to the gym to work on their skills, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to practice.
 
Do you know what your speaker
“practice” time should be focused on?
 
2. Professional Athletes Practice Visualizing the Win – Sometimes people think that when athletes are visualizing, they’re visualizing holding up the trophy. And yes, that may be a small part of it, but that would be like visualizing holding the winning lottery ticket in your hand. You can visualize that ticket in your hand all you want, but you’re never going to win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.
 
Athletes don’t wait around for other athletes to lose. Instead, they visualize their practiced skills putting them in a position to win—like when a basketball player visualizes making a 3-point shot in front of 10,000 screaming fans with five seconds on the clock. Visualizing making the shot over and over is like an internal confidence check. When they’re confident about their ability to execute, they’re more likely to be able to execute when it matters, and that’s how the image of holding the trophy begins to take shape.
 
As a speaker, are you able to visualize yourself
delivering your content with both skill and confidence?
 
3. Experienced Athletes Know the Value of Practicing with Pressure – Have you ever met someone who talks a great game but then falls apart under the pressure to perform? Technically, that’s called stage fright. Well, athletes get stage fright too—especially when they’re just starting their careers. They get over it by putting themselves in controlled situations where they can practice their skills with added pressure. As speakers, we have a huge advantage here. All we have to do to practice pressure is to find someone willing to sit down in front of us while we practice presenting our content.
 
Do you have a trusted advisor who can help you with the
elements of your presentations that might be vulnerable
to the pressure of speaking to a live audience?
 
 
Yes, speakers can definitely follow the steps athletes take when they want to take their game to the next level. One last tip is that athletes rarely try to do it all on their own. They understand that they “don’t know what they don’t know,” and that the solution is to reach out to a coach or an instructor who can help them with both their skills and strategies.
 
So………. How are you doing with your speaking skills and strategies? Are you ready to take your speaking to the next level in 2018?
 
‘Til we speak again, happy playing…whatever your game may be!