I have a ritual that I have followed for a long time. Whenever I have a day that I put a lot of pressure on, for example I am speaking to over 1,000 people or in college, when I had a big exam… I go through a few superstitious actives. I think of it like in baseball every time someone goes to bat, they tug on their left pant leg, step back and forth 7 times and no matter what it is, they perform their little superstitious ritual every single time. This past weekend I spoke to a large audience and did some customized curriculum, so I felt the pressure. I figured it might be fun if I let you all in on how I prepare:
- STEP 1: Before I go to bed the night before I make sure everything is perfect. I double check the Powerpoint. I write out the script or general bullet points of what I want to say. Then, the next morning… I wake up early. I mean REALLY EARLY. I do this to give me ample time to get prepared and motivated and mostly get my energy up so there is no way, shape or form that I will be groggy. Within minutes of waking up I hit the hotel gym to get in a quick treadmill routine. I do this to get my blood flowing and wake me up. After that, I grab a coffee and sit in my hotel room.
- STEP 2: Once I have my caffeine and I am in the privacy of my hotel, I go back through the presentation and I practice in my room. Like a crazy person at 5/6 in the morning I am talking to myself in my hotel room. During my run through with the Powerpoint I take notes of transitions I want to improve or little sparks or moments of thought I have that I want to make sure I include. At this point there is a possibility I will run through it again or re-write the script one more time. Then I get ready. I hair, makeup, jam to music and do anything possible to continue to wake myself up… and get my brain running at full capacity. I am also chugging water throughout this entire process… I should mention.
- STEP 3: I go straight to where I am speaking, get plugged in and mic-ed up. I like to have all of the tech stuff taken care of about an hour before so if something goes haywire I am not in the way of the people organizing the entire event. At this point I try to disappear. Some of my colleagues like to talk to people or interact with audience members. I literally just sit silently looking at my notes. I pray. I practice gratitude. I remind myself how lucky I am to be given this chance to speak my voice. I ask to give the people I am about to speak to the message they need to hear and mostly I ask that every single person leaves my session knowing that they are loved. Seconds before I get on stage… I get a little obsessive-cumpusive. I freak out about my lipstick, my clicker, my notes and my water… never in my life am I as organized as I am right before I speak.
The way I see speaking is this… You have to practice if you want to be innovative. You have to think about what you want to say and how that changes day to day. But if you go anywhere and only speak facts and ideas for an ENTIRE DAY it feels exhausting… it feels like work. Once you put a piece of yourself into it… a little heart, then it stops being work and becomes your purpose. My job does not feel like work… it always feels like a gift.