How To Be Your Best When It Matters Most

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I emceed a local TEDx event yesterday. It’s an interesting experience, watching eleven incredibly diverse people share a singular moment. A moment when they stand on stage, alone, in front of several hundred people (plus who-knows-how-many watching the live stream), and deliver 10-18 minutes of brilliance.

At least, that’s the plan. And, for the most part, they each pulled it off. In fact, most of them rose to the occasion and delivered a talk that was better than any of their rehearsals. That was my experience too when I delivered my own TEDx Talk.

But it doesn’t always happen this way. Some people don’t rise to the occasion. Why are some people able to produce under pressure, while others choke?

While there are a lot of contributing factors, there were three things in particular that I noticed about these eleven people.

1. They were prepared

Each of the people who spoke yesterday had been practicing their brief talk for months. Most of them had delivered their talk, out loud, at least once a day for five, six, seven, eight weeks or more. So, while yesterday may have been the first time they had given their talk to an auditorium full of people, they had already given the talk hundreds of times before.

I gave my TEDx Talk on March 4th in front of 2,500 people at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, BC. But for the two months leading up to that, I delivered that talk at least four times a day. It was the first thing I did when I opened my eyes in the morning and the last thing I did before I went to sleep. By the time March 4th rolled around, I was practically sick of my own TED Talk. But when it mattered most, I didn’t regret a single one of those run-throughs.

YOUR TAKEAWAY: Find ways to practice your pressure situations.

Find ways to practice your #pressure situations. #ProducingUnderPressure Share on X

2. They were familiar with the space

The night before the event, each speaker had a chance to deliver his or her entire talk on stage at the auditorium. Even though there was no audience there, the speakers got to familiarize themselves with the look and feel of the room from the perspective they would have the following day.

When I arrive at a venue for a speaking engagement, the very first thing I do is look at the room. Many times, this is the night before my keynote, and the room hasn’t been set yet. But I’ll at least get to see the size and layout of the room, and make a note of some of the particulars (e.g., are there windows, are there any sight obstructions, etc.).

YOUR TAKEAWAY: Become familiar with the physical space of your pressure situation beforehand.

Become familiar with the physical space of your #pressure situation beforehand. #ProducingUnderPressure Share on X

3. They had a pre-show ritual

Most of the speakers at this TEDx event had some sort of pre-show ritual to help them get ready for their performance. Some of them meditated, some of them listened to music, some of them jogged in place. These rituals were designed to get them in whatever mental and emotional place they felt was most beneficial to their talk.

I used to have a pre-show ritual when I was producing my weekly comedy TV show. Many, if not most, professional athletes have some sort of pre-game ritual.

YOUR TAKEAWAY: Come up with a pre-show ritual that will put you in an optimal state of mind to produce under pressure.

What’s your pre-show ritual for #pressure situations? #ProducingUnderPressure Share on X

You may never give a TEDx Talk. But you will, undoubtedly, face high-pressure situations where you want to perform at your best. By taking tips from these TEDx speakers, you will be at your best when it matters most!

3 tips from 11 TEDx speakers to help you perform better under pressure! #ProducingUnderPressure Share on X

About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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