A tale of feeling like a failing speaker.
A while back I did a speech that I personally did not rank as one of my best ones.
It was for a big crowd (more than 1000 people in the audience) and for a conference that books some of the best speakers in the world.
I was so happy to have been booked at this prestigious and well organised event – but after the speech I called my wife and told her: “I fucked it up.”
A few days ago I got the evaluation that the speaker had sent to the speaker bureau. It read:
“Fredrik was amazing. He was well prepared and his presentation style was outstanding. A true professional. One of the best speakers I have dealt with.”
So did I screw up the speech or did I nail it?
The answer is both.
As a professional speaker we have to think like a gymnast: Only a perfect 10 is acceptable. We have to aim for that. If people do not say: “This was the best speech I have heard in my life” you still have work to do.
But at the same time we need to be able to make peace with the fact that even when you do not deliver that perfect speech, it can still have been acceptable.
Someone at a speaker bureau once said: “The best speakers are the speakers with a highest level of low level.” In other words: The speakers who have the ability to deliver quality content every time, even when they do not feel that they nailed it.
My lesson from this speech is that we constantly need to analyse every single aspect of our speeches to figure out what can be improved on every single delivery. But that we – at the same time – need to do that without beating ourselves up to the degree that we start to question our ability to do what we do.
Great feedback does not mean you could not have been much, much better.
Aiming at becoming better does not mean you are terrible.
So look yourself in the mirror after every speech and honestly ask yourself: What worked? What could I have done better? How can this speech make me a better speaker for the rest of my life?
Then get back up on that horse/stage and try to be even better next time.
ps. I hope 2019 was a great year for your professional speaking career. Follow ProfessionalSpeaking.com in 2020 for more free, professional advise on professional speaker by a professional speaker with 20+ years experience of speaking more than 2000 times in 70 different counties.