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Perfection is Overrated!

by Beth Stoller of At the Podium, LLC

Have you ever noticed how speakers like Brené Brown, Tony Robbins, and Simon Sinek all look like they own the stage—like they belong there? It looks like they never lose their place or forget something, or worry about finishing on time. And clearly, they don’t make mistakes while they’re up there. Right? Wrong.

Give the quote another read and just imagine how many mistakes big-name speakers must have made by the time they reach those huge stages. It’s not like they just woke up one day and declared, “I’m going to be a great speaker!” and then within a week were delivering flawless presentations to 1000 people. No. They started somewhere and had to learn by making their share of mistakes too, which means they aren’t perfect.

Still, mistakes are scary and it’s easy to be in awe of a big-name speaker’s ability to look so perfectly comfortable and confident on stage. In fact, I’m often asked, “When will it feel comfortable for me? When will I feel like I’ve earned the right to be on that stage?”

The answers to those questions will vary, but there is one part of the answer that I believe applies to all speakers—you need to let go of the idea that your presentation has to perfect before you can take the stage. This is where big-name speakers have an advantage. They’ve had enough experience to know that a presentation doesn’t have to be perfect right out of the gate because they can keep right on tweeking it between speaking gigs until they’re comfortable with how it flows.

This doesn’t mean you don’t have to put effort into creating a great presentation though, because you do. It’s just a reminder that each time you speak, you’re going to get better. So don’t think about the things that didn’t go the way you planned as “mistakes.” Instead, be open to figuring out better words and ways of sharing your content. Be open to learning more about your own content too, and you’ll discover new insights that provide more depth, more concise ways of sharing it, and little nuances that will smooth out your presentation. Each adjustment you make is the result of your experience and will have you feeling more and more comfortable about sharing your content from a stage.

When it comes to the question of confidence, would it surprise you to learn that there’s a difference between feeling confident about delivering your content, and having confidence in the content you’re delivering?

Feeling confident about your ability to get up on the stage and present is the result of practicing over and over until you’re “one” with your words. Confidence in your content comes from believing in the value of what you’re sharing, and knowing that you’re sharing it in a way that’s going to encourage, motivate, and/or inspire people to take some kind of action. Each time you get up on stage and can tell that you “nailed it” because of the way your audience reacted, your confidence in your content—and your ability to deliver it—will grow.

So now you have a couple more ideas about how to be comfortable and confident when you’re speaking. People who’ve “mastered” the stage already know about them. Too many beginners get stuck on the idea that both they and their presentation have to be perfect—which is one of the reasons why they’re never “ready” to take the stage. Chances are you’re somewhere in between and that’s a good place to be. Just keep taking steps towards sharing your problem-solving expertise with the audiences who are waiting for it and you’ll get there eventually.

On the other hand, if you’re ready to take a short cut, give me a call. My contact info is:

Beth Stoller, Creator of At the Podium, LLC,  203-895-3583,