When it comes to preparing for presentations, there are two extremes. At one end is the person who barely prepares, if at all. They’re happy to fly by the seat of their pants. At the other end is the speaker who is a perfectionist. They want everything calculated to the nth degree.
Which is better? Well, it’s like most things in life — the extremes work for a rare few.
When it comes to the speaker who is the ultimate perfectionist, I think about one of my clients, Meredith. Meredith has the ability to move people in a way few people can. I liken her skills to that of the singer who combines her words and voice to touch people so deeply that they’ll never forget where they were when they first heard the song.
Oh, if you could have seen Meredith on stage a while back, you would have heard words that were spot on. And her voice? You would have heard her deliver those words with a vocal variety that is incomparable. And her body language, movement, and eye contact would have been impeccable.
Yeah, if you could have seen Meredith back then, you would have walked away thinking that her presentation was near flawless … and absolutely sterile.
But things have changed. Meredith has come to grips with the fact that her perfectionism kept her from achieving her dearest goal — to make a difference in the lives of others.
Consequently, she has gotten counseling for her perfectionism and centers her speaking life on the maxim: Focus on connection, not perfection. And what a difference it has made.
Now, let’s talk about you. Do you consider yourself to be a perfectionist? If so, is it holding you back? Is it keeping you from focusing on connecting with your audiences? Then remember to focus on connection, not perfection.
This could include using more engagement and other techniques. But even more so, it’s about your mindset. Let yourself be vulnerable. Allow yourself to make a “so-called” mistake here and there. And, dare I say it, be authentic.
You can take your first steps by doing what Meredith did. She put those words on her bathroom mirror, just above the speedometer in her car, and as the wallpaper on her computer and phone.
Take it from someone who has spent most of his life dealing with perfectionism. It gets you little, can cost you a lot, and wastes a great deal of time.
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