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It’s Showtime & I’ve Got Nuthin’

I can’t remember anything.

I’ve studied and practiced, but I’m tired and I can’t remember what I intended to say in the way I want to say it.

That’s not so good, because I’m speaking at the Capitol Coaches Conference in Bethesda, MD. I’d spoken to the local ICF chapter last year and I have some fans there, so here’s how they’ve promoted my talk:

“Back by special invitation, Denise Hedges will reprise the ICF Metro DC Chapter presentation that wowed her audience last year.”

No pressure.

Oh, and actually they booked a brand new presentation I’ve done once before as a webinar, and I’ve just given it for the first time before a live audience two weeks ago.

Now, anybody who knows me will tell you I’m a bit compulsive when it comes to preparation. I HAVE to be prepared, so I really worked at it, but I’d just delivered a different speech the week before and that made it harder to nail down the flow on this one no matter how much I practiced.

Here’s the kicker. This is a speech to coaches on Coaching and Speaking Presence, so it’s not like I can stumble and fumble around.

It’s the night before and the more I go over the talk, the less I recall. Okay, a good sleep will help.

It’s now the morning of my speech. The sleep? Not so good, and the night before that was short too.

Plus, my recent workload has been extremely heavy. Giving three speeches in three weeks in three different cities with all the attendant prep, travel, and follow-up have worn me out more than I realized.

I’m usually so thoroughly practiced I can see the pages of my presentation flipping thru my brain with ease as I’m working through the presentation.

Not today.

I can’t remember anything I want to say.


What to do?

Focus on the essence and importance of the message and trust your “team” … your subconscious mind and every cell in your body … to give you the words you need when you need them.

Don’t worry about remembering the words or the exact sequencing of your ideas. Just tell folks what’s important and allow it to flow the best you can.

I had to recall for myself what we tell our Speaker’s Boot Campers. Speaking is about making a connection and giving your audience what they want and need.

And connecting with an audience and delivering for them isn’t about the particular words you speak. It’s NOT about how flawlessly you march through your outline. It’s about having something important to say and sharing yourself.

The presentation turned out great. Lots of interaction. People seemed to like it and get a lot out of it. I’ve gotten wonderful feedback.

In my mind, I was afraid it was all over the place … but it really wasn’t. Why? Because I HAD done the work, and because of my training and experience.

Here’s what this experience reinforced for me and here are the insights I want you to take away from this discussion:

It’s important to know your stuff, but sometimes you won’t be at your best physically or mentally and you have to let go of trying to remember stuff and just talk about what you know, trusting that you’ll find the right words.

You will.

The audience doesn’t know what you intended to say, so as long as there’s some semblance of order and coherence, they won’t know you mixed things up.

I knew my introduction. So, no, I didn’t forget everything. And it’s in that first two or three minutes you create the connection with the audience by telling a story that shows folks you’re a real, open, genuine … yet vulnerable … human being.

Have a solid, compelling intro and know it cold!

The most important insight?

The biggest thing that’ll detract from your speaking presence … is to be WORRIED about your speaking presence!

Worrying about yourself automatically gets you into your head, and when you’re in your head, it’s hard to come from your heart and really be with them.

And if you can’t come from your heart and really connect with your audience, no amount of preparation or stellar recall will make up for what’s missing.

Best wishes,

Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!