February 3, 2009

How can Olympic athletes help you become a better speaker?

As you know, I find athletes' mental and physical preparation practices to be a great model for speakers. So here's an article from the BPS Research Digest blog about Olympic athletes' mental strategies, and there's some great learning here for speakers. (The abstract is here, with additional notes.)

Athletes have some of the same insecurities as speakers; for example, one athlete in the study says, "In some circumstances my intention is not to do the best but to avoid making a bad shot. That is when I make a bad shot. When I think about avoiding the error, I make the error."

How many times have we talked about this kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, called "ironic effects" in the article.

On the positive side, "several of the athletes said that during the days before an event they attempted to recreate the emotional stress of a real competition. They also said they prioritised relaxation time, set themselves goals and mentally rehearsed success."

Sound familiar?

"The athletes also reported devoting considerable time to post-contest evaluation, especially so as to learn from their mistakes."

Go check out this article at BPS, and look at these blog posts to see how athletes' mental and physical preparation can help you improve as a speaker:

Cool as a cucumber or sweaty like a racehorse

Pressure to perform

Psych yourself up... or out

Concentrating or worrying?

Experience vs. practice

Visualization is for the body as well as the mind

Are you playing like a champion?

Lessons from the Olympic Trials (four parts)


A philosophical approach to failure

I do and I understand, Part 1 and Part 2

Public speaking touchdown

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