Experienced surfers make it look so easy! A few weeks ago, I spent some time in Hawai’i watching (from the comfort of my beach chair) skilled surfers ride the waves with acrobatic precision and ballet-like choreography. I noticed that each one followed a very similar routine before venturing into the water. Every single surfer walked up to where the waves lapped the shore and then stopped and scanned the ocean for several minutes. Next they waded in up to their knees and paused and assessed the water again. This observation interested me enough that I asked two of them about the significance of what they were doing. Their answer was not entirely unexpected. Continue reading
“Frustrating,” came the response. My eyebrows rose with the unspoken question.
“The instructor decided to introduce some new routines today. But she clearly hadn’t practiced them herself. It seemed as if she was formulating them in her mind while she demonstrated them! So she kept getting confused and missing steps; then she would correct herself as she went along and sometimes start from the beginning and other times pick up where she left off. It was a mess; all in all, a very confusing and exasperating experience! If only she’d thought it through and practiced it at least once on her own before she presented it in front of a group of people, it would have been much better.”
Hmm! My husband’s experience at the gym got me thinking about some of the business presentations I’ve observed over the years. I have seen very intelligent people unable to communicate their message to others, primarily because they haven’t taken a few minutes to formulate their thoughts and practice what they wanted to say. Because they are authorities in their areas of expertise, they feel that they can improvise or present off-the-cuff. Yet what you know is not necessarily linked to how well you can communicate it to others. There are very few people who are able to successfully cobble together a business presentation “on-the-fly”; the rest of us must put at least some preparation and practice into it. If you don’t invest at least some time in laying out an outline and practicing key components of what you want to say, you run the risk of confusing and perhaps even annoying your audience, something you definitely don’t want to do if your objective is to persuade and convince.
So, do you agree? Do you normally invest time in preparing and practicing before you present, or are you one of those lucky people who can “wing it”?