I don’t know about you, but when I sing in the shower…I sound terrific. Of course, the acoustics help, perhaps the steam, but most definitely the fact that there is no one there to hear me.
Same vein, different venue: I have a friend who claims she’s a fantastic driver…but only when no one else is in the car.
This is an odd phenomenon because we are usually our own worst critics, right? But there are some instances when we don’t do ourselves any favors by being our own biggest fans: and rehearsal time for meeting speakers is one of them.
Sidebar: Corporate meetings sometimes include professional guest speakers—those who actually make a living speaking in front of others. But they always include company spokespeople (eg. CEOs, COOs, brand leaders). And let’s be honest here…many of these folks are stellar at their official jobs, but not so comfortable speaking in front of an audience.
The moral of this story is that the best thing you can do for your speakers is to get them in a conference room. Start three or four weeks before the meeting. Simulate the meeting environment: give them a podium, a count down clock, confidence monitors, a teleprompter. And fill the room with a trusted audience.
(Gently) force them to practice. To say it out loud. They’ll tell you they know what they’re going to say, that they don’t need to practice. But the inside of their heads is just a smaller shower, ie. a place where they can skip over the fuzzy parts and tell themselves they’ll ‘figure that bit out later’.
Face it together. Meet the tough parts head on…ahead of the pressure that comes when the meeting is days away, or tomorrow. Bring your speakers and the content together, so that they’re tight, seamless and confident before they step on the stage. It’ll be cleaner that way—no shower required.