“I haven’t got the time today, I’ll work on it the night before”, “It’s a subject I know a lot about”, “I’ll just wing it”, “it doesn’t matter if I prepare, they’ll shoot me down anyway” or maybe the get-out clause, “I’m in front of a friendly crowd, it will be fine”. All of these are reasons for me to find myself in Doodle District instead of putting in the hard yards and doing my presentation preparation. Because getting started is the toughest part of any task that you don’t want to do. Including a presentation that you’re anxious about. Last week I heard some of these reasons from a client – a kind, clever, committed and understated boss, someone who has always taken pride in leading from behind, and doing rather than saying.
Postponing your preparation
He phoned because he had an important presentation that he had been putting off. Not a long presentation, but in the context of business bounceback, a vital meeting with his team.
In his presentation, he wanted to set the scene for a challenging time ahead, and get buy-in from his team. He wanted to set an optimistic tone, whilst being realistic. He wanted to make the team proud of their work over many years building strong partnerships.
But most of all, he wanted the team to know that he’s willing to embrace feedback. On the phone, he said that he knows his biggest hurdle is the team’s belief that he is willing to flex and adapt quickly.
He’s always taken pride in his ability to step back and not rush a decision. True to form, he’s been planning meticulously for how his business can evolve post-pandemic. But like Mike Tyson he knows that everyone “has a plan until they get hit”. He needs his team need to understand that he knows the rules of engagement have changed and agility is the order of play.
But in his own words, “I’ll spend hours crafting the strategy, and minutes on the presentation preparation. But this is a difficult conversation – so I need to think about how I say this.” So last week he lifted the phone to talk because he was due to speak to the team and needed an external point of view. And I remembered the Ten Minute Rule, and how it has helped me to tackle those things that I put off.
Try the Ten Minute Rule
Getting started is the toughest part of all of those tasks that we don’t want to do. Including a presentation that you’re anxious about. So if you find yourself procrastinating and delaying your presentation preparation, then that’s when the Ten Minute Rule can help. Sit down and tell yourself, “I will spend ten minutes on this. Once ten minutes is up, I’ll decide whether to keep going.”.
Straight away you’ve acknowledged the dread you’re feeling. By becoming present and stepping into the task, you’ve taken away its hold over you. How often has a fifteen-minute presentation taken up five hours of space in your head dreading it?
So block out ten minutes to make a start. That simple act helps you to cut out the catastrophisation, and the underlying fears you have about the presentation going wrong. Mentally you’re starting to get your head in the game, and practically you’re starting to pull together all the information you need. You’re now taking the steps to make sure that your presentation has the impact you want.
So this week, I’m secretly proud as I see the social media updates start to trickle in from my client’s team. There’s an energy there as they adapt and change to a new world. That one small thing crossed off their leader’s to-do list has amplified their efforts many times.
If public speaking is something that you put off, and you know that you need to invest, then perhaps the Speakeasy Club can help? Build your skills week on week in the company of other like-minded speakers with the benefit of expert facilitation to bring out your strenths. Find out more here!
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