Rumour has it that before Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir ice danced their way to a glorious gold medal in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, they were in an incommunicado bubble. They had asked not to be told how the other ice dancers performed or scored. So they saw and heard nothing before their show-stopping performance.
This self-imposed cone of silence had one very big advantage. It allowed Virtue and Moir to focus totally on their own ice dance. They focused on the only thing they could control… their own routine. And when they performed it, they owned every second of their four minutes.
There’s a lesson here for speakers. Focus, focus, focus. When you get up and speak, regardless of whether it’s in a boardroom, town hall or convention stage, you are responsible for only one thing – your speech or presentation. You should focus on nothing else. Let go of the frustration about your car being late, or your hotel room being noisy, or not having a table in a prime spot to sell copies of your new book.
As speakers, sometimes an incommunicado bubble is not to our advantage. We may have to pay attention to the speaker before us, or watch for audience reaction before we are up. Still, when we are up, nothing else must get in the way of our performance.
Take a few moment, take a few calming breaths, clear your mind of extraneous clutter. Focus. Get in the right head-space to own every second of your presentation.
Focus does not preclude making changes to your material. If you decide to make a late change to your content, your heightened focus will help you edit on the fly.
Speaking demands your full attention. Your audience deserves nothing less.