133 million people in the United States celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in 2014. That means that nearly half of the population believed in luck, or green beer, for a day.
But it isn’t always St. Patrick’s Day when people start wishing they could increase their luck or attract good luck. Some people try year-round to emulate the habits of those lucky-son-of-a-guns they know.
Before a speech, speakers silently plead with the powers-that-may-be for a smooth performance. But success isn’t out of their control. The secret to luck–that everyone doesn’t want to admit–is that luck is simply hard work and preparation.
If you want to reach the pot of gold at the end of your speech, learn to make your own with these three tips.
Make Every Rehearsal Count
Dress rehearsals mean giving your presentation as if it were the real thing: full dress, full speech and full use of technology. The only thing missing: a full audience.
Your presentation needs “It Factor” and that “It Factor” comes from confidence. Confidence comes from rehearsal.
But rehearsal isn’t just for what you’re saying. Rehearsing allows you to put your entire presentation through troubleshooting. It’s better to know your technology isn’t compatible with your performance space ahead of time instead of at go-time.
If you can practice in your performance space–perfect–but, if you can’t, get as close to the real thing as possible. That means: get on your feet and give your presentation as if it’s the final show. Doing this will allow you to prepare for any likely hiccups.
Don’t “Wing It”
There’s a fine line between knowing enough to connect and memorizing a speech verbatim, but either is better than knowing nothing.
In fact, under-memorization can cause an uncanny valley effect: the speech is familiar enough to be accessible but foreign enough to be eerie. Your audience will definitely pick up on the awkwardness and uncertainty, dooming your presentation.
Over-memorization is often mistakenly thought of as “becoming boring.” This is inaccurate. You want your speech to be second nature. Do it in the shower. Have people interrupt you. Only by knowing your topic intimately can you be free to expand upon it. Musicians only improvise once they have a solid foundation to go off of.
When you can give your talk in any type of situation and with any type of distraction, you’ll be able to give it to your audience. No sweat.
Perhaps more nerve-racking than giving your presentation is asking for feedback on it. But how will you improve if you don’t know what to work on? To make the most of your practice time, you need an objective viewpoint, not just your experiential one.
If you’re too nervous to approach audience members after your talk, ensure you have something set up beforehand. Video yourself or ask a trusted advisor to sit in on the talk.
After you ask for the feedback, receive it gracefully and learn from it. Don’t try to defend a choice you made that the evaluator may point out as a flaw. Instead, look at it from their point of view and weigh the opinion against other feedback.
Like the old Irish saying, “If it’s drowning you’re after, don’t torment yourself with shallow water,” you have to fully commit to your speech to make it work. Practice it, know it, learn from it.Some people may have all the luck, but that’s only because they put in the work. Be one of the lucky ones this St. Patrick’s Day and remember: practice makes perfect.