What I learned about presentations from snooker…

ronny osullivanNow let’s get things straight first: I am not a great snooker supporter.  In fact I would go so far as to say I am not especially interested in the sport or the players.  Many years ago I once sat on an aeroplane next to a famous (then) player. I chatted away oblivious to who he was and unaware of the jealous stares of other passengers who clearly would have given their right arm to be sitting next to their hero!

But, I do like food.

And last Saturday I was indulging in eating my breakfast while watching Saturday Morning Kitchen.  My foodie hero, James Martin ‘s special guest was Ronnie O’Sullivan, the current snooker champion.  In amongst him devouring a steak served with beetroot and homemade chips  (yum), James asked him about how he started playing snooker and how he keeps on delivering such high standard playing. This is what caught my attention because he shared a few gems that really resonated with me…

1. He started playing at a very young age and played and played and played.  And still does.  He isn’t the best player in the world just because he has some talent. He isn’t the Champion because he is lucky or it comes easily or it is in his nature.  He has put in his 10.000 hours as Malcolm Gladwell states in Outliers.  He practices. He perfects. He works hard.

And so it is with speaking powerfully, persuasively and with impact. You may start off with some talent. You may well be lucky in some cases and have a nature suited to speaking.

Or not.  (Because you can learn how to speak in public!)

What will make the difference though is putting in the hours. Practicing. Perfecting. Working hard to get the message right, to craft the content, to rehearse and deliver to the highest standard you can. That’s why I set up my SpeakUp! Clubs so that people can regularly revisit, revamp and revitalise their speaking skills and importantly get some practice each month. If you only speak twice a year, then it will always be a big deal and you are not likely to see the improvements that you would like or that are possible. Speaking at meetings, networks, conferences, small groups, big groups…just speaking!

2. Ronnie O’Sullivan also shared that at this point in his career, it was less about learning new things and more about practicing so that he gets things right consistently.  About honing a skill and keeping the excitement and the passion alive.

This really resonated with me. Of course when we start speaking in public it is all about learning the most effective approach.  Understanding and then applying the tools, techniques and skills required to prepare, craft and deliver brilliant presentations. Then it is about regularly speaking so you can get better and develop a powerful, personal voice that shines through your messages and content.

And then there is the opportunity to hone your craft. To perfect but also develop real consistency in the results you are getting. It is exciting to realise that you really can influence and persuade, to sell to or move your audience – once.  It is quite different to confidently know that you can replicate this time after time after time.

So who would have thought that the  quiet, reticent, monosyllabic Snooker Champion 2015 could tell us so much about speaking in public!

I’ll leave you with a couple of thought provokers (and please feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments below):

1. Are you prepared to put the hours in?  Is getting your message out there important enough that you put in the effort to break away from the dull, predictable and easy way of presenting and start learning how to deliver dynamic, engaging presentations that get results?

2. Once you know you can ‘do it’ how far will you go to ensure that you are not a one trick pony – that you can deliver consistently well again and again and again?

Look forward to hearing from you and please call on 07946604859 if you want to discuss how I can help you with your presentations.

Oh – and remember to sign up for Speech Bubbles – weekly inspiration for your presentations.

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