I went onstage right after Dan Patterson’s presentation at Audience (note: video is NSFW for language). The key takeaway from Dan’s piece was, “tighten up.” Essentially, if you think you’re doing awesome and that your presentation (or your writing, or your efforts in any of your pursuits) are top shelf, you should really get over yourself and get back into critiquing yourself, and improving your game.
I do this. Just now, I watched my own performance at Audience. On the day of the event, I felt like I killed it. Like the entire audience was eating out of my hands. Watching it now, I see that I rambled too much, that my narrative kept falling under the weight of all my asides, that people in that audience didn’t get their $129 worth out of me.
Review Yourself Regularly
It’s important to “roll back the tapes” and look at how you’re doing. Go over your last 10 blog posts. Whatever your role, take a look at how you’re doing. If you’re working on your fitness and health issues, do it for that. That’s not the main point. Set yourself up for regular reviews and be very frank and honest about how you’re doing. Tear yourself apart. It’s great to work on confidence, but this is the place where you confidently decide that you have room to improve.
Do Something With It
Improvement opportunities are a wonderful thing, not a time to wallow. I looked at my presentation at Audience, realized that I was going for yucks and not delivering enough value, and it’s reminded me that I usually use a little notepad full of takeaways that structure my talks. It’s not really a speech, per se, as much as it’s a checklist of things I want to be sure to impart before I disappear.
Evolve. Work on your efforts, and tighten up.
World renowned speaker and friend David Meerman Scott works the same speech for a year or years at a time, but he varies and experiments with little bits of it all the time, tinkering with delivery, tinkering with case studies, working on whether or not certain parts work or don’t. Because he has a reasonably solid framework in place, he can do that.
I saw comedian Carmen Lynch give a set that I’d seen a few times before on YouTube before meeting her in person, and I loved watching the nuances. Comics work their material for years, so that it sounds natural and normal and flowy and extemporaneous. It’s a lesson for us to take back to our own workbenches.
Work for You?
The worst one can do is stagnate by thinking they’ve perfected their methods. Never surrender your belief that you can improve and freshen up your experience. To do so is to damn your future audiences (in whatever form that may take).
Tighten up. I’ll do my best, too. Fair?