The Mental Game of Speaking
Are You a Mentally Tough Speaking Athlete?
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Can you play at the top of your game on demand? How do you
handle the rigors of the high stress professional speaking
game? Mental toughness is the ability to thrive on stress
and to perform in the upper ranges of our potential more often.
The top athletes who possess mental toughness live this every
day. Professional speakers are the pro athletes of the business
world. The speakers who continually perform to their potential
over a lifetime know what it takes to build and maintain a
strong mental game.
Here are some tools and attitudes that you, as a mentally
tough speaking athlete, can hold about yourself, your audiences
and the speaking business. Reflect on them, discuss them with
others and write about them in your journal. Use them to build
your mental toughness.
1. You Don't Hope For an Easy Life; You Strive to be a
Strong Person. Top athletes seek the rigors of competition
and thrive on seeing how they rise to the occasion. You seek
challenging opportunities and realize the speaking business
is not for the faint of heart. You continually seek assignments
which help you grow personally and professionally.
2. You Love the Craziness of the Pro Speaking Business.
You accept the often ambiguous and unpredictable nature of
our business and learn to adapt, be flexible and overcome
the inevitable curves thrown at you. You flow like a mentally
tough athlete handling every roadblock imaginable with poise
3. You Have a Mistake Management System. Athletes make
mistakes every time they compete. They have a system to maintain
their confidence and refocus on the task at hand immediately.
When you make an error, you breathe, relax, smile or joke,
recover and maintain poise and balance. You practice "ad-libbed"
humorous recovery phrases and have backup plans to handle
any problem contingencies in your programs.
4. You View "Tough Audiences" as Being Your Teachers.
You reframe them as partners in co-creating a valuable learning
experience you both share. The more difficult your audience,
the greater the victory in winning them over and the more
you raise the bar on your influencing skills. Any win is more
meaningful when it is more difficult to achieve.
5. You Use the Specificity of Training Principle. You
rehearse in your mind and in actuality, using all props, aids,
and movements key elements of your program exactly as they
will be so there are no surprises. Olympic stars believe that
practice does not make perfect...it makes permanent. Only
perfect practice makes perfect.
6. You View "Speaking Slumps" as Opportunities For Growth.
You view these as a normal part of a speaker's development.
You examine the "slump" or plateau, learn from it and use
it to go to the next level. You are careful as to how you
define a slump so you don't create one when one isn't there.
7. You Use the Concept of Automaticity. You over-prepare
and know your material cold so your mind is free to do audience
calibration. You read the audience instead of being in your
head "remembering" what to do or say next. This allows you
to be creatively extemporaneous, and to be in relationship
with your audience. You are audience-centered and meet their
needs at every moment.
8. You Use Negative Thinking and Visualization. You
are a positive thinker, yet you also use negativity thinking
or mastery visualization where you plan ahead for potential
problem contingencies and practice responses to unusual or
difficult speaking circumstances. You plan and hope for the
best, but you open your eyes to potential bumps in the road
9. You Take a Strategic Stance About Difficulties in the
Business. You look back to see how far you've come in
the business and how each challenging event toughens you mentally
to be able to handle higher levels of stress. You have perspective
and can execute tactically as you hold a long-range, wise,
10. You Use Periodization to Recover From Stress. Our
business is exciting yet energy-draining. You create a periodization
scheduling system for allowing your body and mind to heal
regularly and to restore energy reserves so you can operate
at peak more often. Athletes know they can't train, compete
and work continuously. They schedule days off and mini-vacations
each day for recovery.
Top athletes and speakers train with dedicated precision,
know when and how to recover, take the strategic long-term
view and execute to their optimum abilities. Use the mental
game secrets of sports stars and take your speaking game to
the next level.
To learn more about how presentation coaching can help you
become a better, more confident speaker, visit Bill Cole,
MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach at www.mentalgamecoach.com/Services/PresentationCoaching.html.
Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.
This article covers only one small part of the mental game.
A complete mental training program includes motivation and
goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review
and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training,
breath control training, mental rehearsal, concentration training,
pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building,
breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental
toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, psych-out
proofing and media training.
For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities
you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete
mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take
66-item presentation skills assessment tool you can score
right on the spot, visit http://www.presentationskillscoaching.com/presentation_skills_assessment.html.
This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths
and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a
guide in creating your own mental training program, or as
the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS,
MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an
excellent first step to help you get the big picture about
your mental game of speaking and giving presentations.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness
and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching
Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports.
He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published
book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive
article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
Article Source: www.PresentationSkillsCoaching.com
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