As soon has we pronounce the word routine, some of you already feel an infinite boredom fall on your shoulders. Rest assured because we‘ll be talking mainly about concentration and performance. If we talk to you about routine and sports, there’s a strong chance that you’ll remember the famous football star Zinedine Zidane concentrating on putting on “first his left sock, then his right sock and then taking a sip of…” what already? Seriously, concentration is vital to staying anchored in the presentation and not letting yourself be overwhelmed by your emotions.
For an athlete, routine isn’t what ensures physical performance, rather it’s the training and preparation that does. On the other hand, to achieve victory, concentration is indispensible to allow the athlete to sort out what he/she needs to take into account in staying focused on what is important. Similarly for a speaker, it isn’t the routine that makes you perform better, but the attention that you bring to your preparation, whether it’s in building the presentation or in your physical and vocal condition. However, concentration ensures you don’t lose your train of thought and puts you entirely at the service of the idea you want to convey.
When you speak in public, anything can happen no matter when. It is both what is so exciting and scary about this exercise. Because even if your presentation is perfectly planned and executed, if you don’t manage unexpected events, you’ll always be blamed for not having anticipated them and not knowing how to react. Rather than conveying a clear and inspiring leadership style, you’ll pass for someone who rebukes obstacles and stays in his bubble.
This is the difference with sports: a speaker cannot be fully effective if he remains in his protective bubble with his idea and his notes. The audience must be part of the bubble with ongoing interactions to check on the attention you are paying to one another. Concentration then takes on two forms:
- Internal: staying focused on the key points of your presentation and on what they represent for you in terms of involvement, issues and feelings.
- External: staying connected with the audience to guide the way it grasps the story that you’re sharing in terms of attention and understanding.
By putting routines into place before speaking, you give yourself enough time to focus on what is really important: your stage presence. Without it becoming an obsession or superstition, you can integrate anything you want into your routine:
- Voice warm-ups to improve the control of your voice
- Physical warm-ups to assert a strong and serene stage presence
- Stress management/meditation for more serenity
- Connecting to the present, to avoid being overwhelmed by negative thoughts
And if you have no idea… you can always put on “the left sock first, then the right…”