POWER PLAY #20 Prepare Like an Athlete

What do professional athletes and entertainers do before they perform? That’s right, they warm up.
Watch any athletic contest on TV, and you’ll get a glimpse of the players getting ready for the competition. You’ll see them stretching, jumping up and down, and even saying things to themselves or their teammates. What they’re really doing is getting their minds and bodies focused on the task at hand. Just like you and me, they have lives off the playing field. They have spouses, children, and even bills to pay. In terms of preparing their minds, their warm-up routine helps them shut off all thoughts and concerns that don’t contribute to high performance. There’s no such thing as multitasking when you’re in the middle of a game and you’re playing to win.

You may not think you’re like the people you watch on TV, but you have a lot in common with them. As a presenter, you have to perform under pressure, and the clock is always ticking. You may even have some people in your audiences who don’t want you to succeed. And just like the people on TV, you certainly have lots of other things going on in your life that you could focus on. The average person has about 60,000 thoughts a day without even trying. The answer isn’t to think more thoughts, but to choose to focus only on the thoughts that will help you perform well. In that way, you can think of your performance the same way the professional athlete does. You need to know you’re going to win and feel you’re going to win to give yourself the best chance of peak performance.

So before every presentation, warm up your body and mind. Before I even show up for a presentation, I start with some stretching or yoga exercises. That stretching is a must! Any tension in the body will be interpreted by the mind as nervousness, which will end up triggering even more nervousness and tension. In addition to stretching, I also like to do dynamic movements with my body, such as jumping up and down, or going on a brisk walk.

I also prepare my mind to think the perfect thoughts and feel the perfect emotions. Rarely do I wake up in the perfect mindset to give a presentation. It takes work. For a big presentation, I start preparing my mind the day before. I’ll visualize the presentation and see it going incredibly well. I’ll start telling myself how well it went, even though I haven’t even done the presentation yet.
Visualizing success before it happens is a technique that athletes and performers have been using for years, and it’s something you should be using, too.