Coffee and rehearsal notes were all part of my preparation. And a side order of panic.
By Karen Adamedes
My regular readers would be familiar with my frequent urging to rehearse before presentations, negotiations and any activity that is going to put you in the spotlight.
These are opportunities to build your credibility, demonstrate what you know and how you think. But the reality is that we are all so busy that we (me included) sometimes take shortcuts and work on the, “it’ll be alright on the night” philosophy.
But last week I had an opportunity to put my money where my mouth is. Walk the talk. Practise what I preach. (You get the drill!)
I had the fabulous opportunity (aka nerve wracking experience) of being asked to be a guest on the national Australian Sky Business channel for an interview on change management. (When I am not blogging, writing, speaking about careers this is the topic I work in as a management consultant).
Fabulous opportunity for credibility. Unique chance to sharpen my skills. Thrilled to be asked. Of course, I agreed. That was a couple of weeks ago.
As the day of the interview approached it also became a chance to wonder what on earth I had got myself into and how I was going to calm the nerves to be interviewed (and make sense!)? Live. On National TV. (No pressure there at all!)
I reviewed my options.
1. I couldn’t pull out. Loss of credibility. Loss of opportunity. Not a good look. Not an option.
2. I could prepare and rehearse (exactly like I go on from my soapbox about!) and do the very best I could. It didn’t need to be an Emmy winning performance. Only option.
Fortunately the producer who had booked me in was a real professional and sent me the potential questions in advance.
So I was able to start by working in a way I am comfortable – writing. I wrote the answers to the questions in bullet points. I then sent them off to a trusted adviser, got their feedback and made a few minor tweaks.
Next, I rehearsed the answers out loud so I could see what sounded okay, if any of the wording was clunky and if I was actually answering the question and, you guessed it, there were a few more tweaks required.
After putting aside for a day I went back and reviewed my content again, and got each answer down to three words that would prompt me to remember what I wanted to say (this was a technique I had used at university for exam preparation).
I wrote up my notes, with all my word prompts, in big type – in hopeful anticipation that I could have them in front of me at the interview and set about remembering them verbatim as much as I could.
In the meantime I recorded and watched an episode of the show so that I could see what the set up was and who the interviewer was and their style. I decided what I was going to wear, got a manicure (I talk with my hands so that was essential) and arranged to get my hair done on the day. Too late to loose some more weight but I was as ready as I could be!
And then I decided to panic. “What”, I asked myself, “makes you think that you can do this?”
So I gave myself a talking to / pep talk.
I had done a TV interview 4 years ago when my book, “Hot Tips for Career Chicks” first came out. And survived. But maybe that was a one off wonder? And it was 4 years ago!
I reminded myself that I have made hundreds of presentations to large audiences, small audiences, senior audiences, tough audiences, over my career. I’d learnt to be myself and focus on my audience and what they wanted to hear about and my content. That resonated a little more strongly.
If I could talk about what I knew for all those presentations, then I could talk about what I know. It’s just that it would be on TV. Live. Nationally. (Panic stations anyone?)
And then I remembered what someone said to me before my first TV foray. “You know what you’re talking about. You care about it. You will be fine.”
And I did. And I was.
My preparation allowed me to be adapt to the situation – it was a different interviewer (the episode I watched the regular presenter had been on holidays!) but the style and the tone of the interview was as I had prepared. And I needed every second of that preparation time.
Two solid days of preparation came down to a 12 minute interview with another guest so that was about 5 minutes of talking for me.
No one from the Emmy’s has called and I know the things I can improve for next time. But I have been invited back for next year. So it must have been at least okay. I didn’t embarrass myself and I didn’t say anything dumb. (Yeh!) And next time will be easier (surely!)
And what a reminder about the importance of preparation and rehearsals…and a chance to stretch myself!
You might not put yourself through the same experience but any chance to present or be under the spotlight can be nerve wracking.
But if you know what you’re talking about. You care about it. And you prepare – you will be fine.
Go forth, Prepare, Rehearse and Present. ‘Cause it does feel really good when you’re done! 🙂
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