June 17, 2010

Play the hard teams

There's a team in our county that got beaten badly by our local team. After that loss, they decided they weren't going to play our team again.

Both as a former team-sport athlete and as a sports fan, I find it shocking that they are giving up the opportunity to improve their skills by playing a tougher team. The truth is, they've lost all their games this season, so I can see how they might feel demoralized.

But unless they want to give up and shut down their team, they are going to keep playing and they are going to keep losing. At least sometimes, because that's how it is for most of us!

When I first started out as a speaker, my audience was teenagers. And I was terrified. I was intimidated. I couldn't imagine making any kind of an impact, or even connecting with them at all. I don't even remember my first experience talking to a classroom full of teenagers; I must have blocked it out.

However, I kept going. (Well, I had to. It was my job.) I kept showing up. I kept tweaking my presentation to make it better. I learned from these high school students how to meet them where they were, how to engage them, how to understand their needs as an audience. I did it for six years. And in the interest of not repeating myself too much, I will direct you to the post I wrote about why you need real world experience, and what I learned from it.

Don't avoid the difficult audiences because you're afraid. Don't shy away from trying something new and hard because you fear embarrassment. If everything you do is easy, you will never grow as a speaker.

We all fail from time to time, but failure is nothing more than a learning experience. Keep learning, keep trying, keep fighting. You will succeed.

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4 comments. Please add yours! :

Jon Thomas said...


You've touched on a great point. Aside from presenting, I've continue to be an athlete and compete often. It's tough for many to admit, but the ONLY way to get better is to consistently challenge yourself against top-notch competition.

To continually challenge myself as a presenter, I just joined my local Toastmaters. Just like everyone else, I need to sharpen my tools.

Jon Thomas
Presentation Advisors

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Jon. It's painful to lose, especially by a lot. But you and I know how valuable it is to keep getting up and keep getting in the game. There's no substitute for facing a tough audience!

Zach Robbins said...

Spoken like a true veteran. The entire idea of public speaking is to be outside of your comfort zone. But oddly enough, being outside of your normal box soon becomes your comfort zone. You own that space the more you challenge yourself. Great stuff.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Zach. I think I'm going to tweet it. :-)

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