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The Top 3 Things that Stand Between Busy Professionals and Speech Preparation

No one wants to give a less than stellar business presentation, but that’s what sometimes happens to even the most well intentioned people. While they know they need to prepare for the presentation (and they even want to), other things get their time and attention, leaving speech preparation on the back burner. Here are the three top things that get in the way of speech preparation…and how to overcome them.

  1. Work: Studies tell us that Americans work the longest hours among all industrialized countries. This is what the American Dream is about—having the drive to work hard and succeed. But many professional don’t think of giving a presentation as real work; rather, they view themselves as subject matter experts who have to give a presentation as a means to an end. To alleviate this, turn the tables and think of your next presentation as part of your real job. You wouldn’t short-change the professional tasks you are trained for and paid to do, so don’t short-change your presentation skills either. They are real work.
  2. Time management: It is not unusual for professionals to work 50-60 hours per week. Additionally, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), a global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets, Americans spend 32.7 hours a week online—for both work and personal matters. No wonder making time for speech preparation can be so difficult. To successfully fit it in, practice in chunks. Make a list of all the meetings you have in a given week. Assign a presentation skill to practice for each meeting. For example, in your Monday morning staff meeting you could practice eye contact, while at your employee briefing you could practice gestures—and there’s always the dinner table! Remember that practice and preparation can be spread out and incorporated into other daily tasks and activities.
  3. Business Travel: More than 405 million business trips are taken in the U.S. annually. The packing, travelling to and from the airport, time in the air, and then doing business preclude having adequate time for speech preparation. Ironically, the reason for the business travel often involves one or more members of your team giving a presentation. Many people use their time in the air to create their PowerPoint™ slides, but this is also a great time to practice the various sections of your presentation and to memorize your opening, transitions, and final thought. When you arrive at your hotel room practice your entire presentation out loud at least three times.

Giving great presentations is essential for business success. When you can overcome the top three distractions that impede your presentation preparation, you can hone your public speaking skills for continued professional growth.

What typically gets in your way for speech preparation? Leave your comments here and I’ll address them in a future blog post.

July 10th, 2012 | Permalink | Trackback | Bookmark and Share

2 Responses to The Top 3 Things that Stand Between Busy Professionals and Speech Preparation

  1. Donn King

    Hi, Angela. I appreciate the insights here! I have two parallel thoughts to offer that sort of address your question.

    1) We will not be eaten by elephants, but nibbled to death by gnats. That fits the three things you have identified-it’s the accumulation of mind set and time management that can derail the best intentions for preparing.

    2) Most people who identify themselves as procrastinators are not really-it’s just that they’re trying to work beyond their juggling skills. It happens I can literally juggle three objects fairly well, but if you throw a fourth object in there, I don’t just drop one object-I drop them all. Figuratively, when life throws one more item into our juggling pattern, it can cause everything to go to, um, pieces. For some people, the presentation becomes the extra object.

    (To take the analogy a little further: juggling four objects requires a different pattern as three. It’s not just a matter of juggling faster, but juggling differently.)

  2. Angela DeFinis

    Great insight, Donn. I guess one of the keys, then, is to get business professionals to realize that their next presentation is not another ball to juggle; it’s one they should’ve been juggling all along, especially how prevalent presentations are in today’s business world. Also, if they make practice something they do as part of their everyday routine, there’s nothing new to add. It’s just something they do. It can be as simple as practicing eye contact over dinner and gestures during another interaction. Love your analogies!

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