It’s not just presenters who feel the pinch of nerves! Chatting about the Commonwealth Games a while ago, my friend Alan Stevens posted on the Professional Speaking Association’s Facebook group a comment from one of the shooters, saying that they didn’t feel under pressure from the other competitors – they had to do what they had to do, and ignore everyone else. That got me thinking about what presenters can learn from other high-pressure environments… I use a lot of research done on medics and artistic performers, so I thought I’d take the time to look at at the situation for sports performers…
What’s that quote got to do with making better presentations?
Well, for a start, it speaks to a technique called Catch the Apple – I use a climbing analogy rather than an Olympic one, but the idea is the same!
Oh, okay, okay, I’ll tell you what the apple bit is all about… it referring to an exercise we sometimes use on our presentation skills training days. Catch the apple as we toss it too and fro – easy right? But what if I tell you that if you drop the apple the cost of the training doubles? Or that you’ll get thrown out and have to find someone else to train you in better presentation skills? If you’re training with us it’s ‘cos you need to make a cracking presentation, so the stakes are high.
… and worrying about those consequences raises the stakes instead of just letting you catch the apple.