Do you rehash the same presentation over and over without refreshing the stories or finding new and better ways to express your concepts? Do you give the same canned talk to every group without bothering to find out who's in the audience? Do you feel burdened and put-upon every time you speak instead of feeling gratitude for the opportunity to educate, inform, persuade or entertain this group of people who have give their time to hear you?
Now consider this: What if you could share your message only once every four years? But when you spoke, you had a worldwide stage?
How would you present differently?
* Would you make an extra effort to be clear and concise, so there was no confusion about what you were saying?
* Would you test your equipment first to make sure you knew how to use your presentation remote and your microphone?
* Would you go to great lengths to provide relevant and valuable content to your audience, because you might not get another chance to be in front of them?
* Would you commit to thorough preparation and practice so you could be almost 100% sure of knowing your stuff, delivering it well and not wasting the audience's time?
* Would you pay more attention to your visuals, your props, and your methods of involving and interacting with the audience in order to keep them engaged the entire time?
Once every four years, we're able to watch the world's elite athletes compete at the highest level of their ability. They train year-round to peak at exactly the right time for their most prestigious competition.
The difference between Olympic athletes and (many) speakers, however, is that elite athletes push themselves to do better ALL the time. Not just when the Olympics roll around. Whether they have a worldwide audience or they're competing at a non-televised event like the Mt. Sac Relays, they always bring their A game.
They might hold back a little in the preliminary rounds to save energy for the finals, but they are still competing at a level far above the average athlete, and their process is well thought out and carefully planned.
Speakers, however, frequently do the bare minimum to get through an engagement. They put their presentations together at the last minute; they pay no attention to who's in the audience, and they focus only on their own comfort and convenience by reading from bullet-laden slides and drowning the audience in data.
Only when an "important" presentation comes their way (based on the size of the audience or the impressiveness of the people attending) do they suddenly awake from their comatose state and leap into action.
Unfortunately, because there is no regular habit of proper preparation or commitment to excellence, this speaker is at a loss. He can't even begin to figure out how to create or deliver an effective presentation because he has built up no "muscle memory" over time of the speaker habits that are necessary to make this happen.
Every time you speak is an opportunity to improve, to strengthen your skills, to build your speaking and confidence muscles. Every time you speak is an opportunity to put your best out there. Every time you speak is an opportunity to make an impact, give value and be memorable.
It's all up to you.
If you feel that your presentations aren't where you want them to be because you don't know where to begin with your own process for creating audience engagement, I'll be offering my new teleseminar series, "Speak to Engage: 7-Step Shortcut to Public Speaking Success," this fall. Get on my advance notice list (which will still be open for a short time) to get updates, early bird specials and other goodies as we get closer to launching the program.