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Procrastination can be deadly to your career no matter which field you are in. In fact, it can literally be deadly in some cases. So why do so many people procrastinate? Well, there are two common reasons: 1. they associate some sort of discomfort towards the thing they have to do & 2. they have other things they’d rather be doing. So given that so many folks feel discomfort just at the thought of speaking to groups, it should come as no surprise that not adequately preparing for a speech is the most common (and most harmful) public speaking mistake.
Preparing for a talk is a lot of work. You need to research your topic, write your speech and then practice and tweak it. So it’s very easy for this task to either slip through the cracks or only get a half-hearted effort. And that half-hearted effort often results in a sub-par talk which just reinforces the speakers’ discomfort with public speaking. So how can you avoid this trap? Simply realize the costs of not preparing and compare them with the benefits of preparing.
There’s a song by Kenny Chesney called “Don’t Blink” that has an interesting message to it. It’s about a guy watching the news where a man that just turned 102 is being interviewed. The reporter asks the man for advice on how to reach 100 years and the man essentially tells the reporter to enjoy life because “100 years goes by faster than you think. So don’t blink.”
The message from the song is so true. You’re a kid and then before you know it, you’re a young adult getting married. And then all of sudden you’ve got children, and then grandchildren and then you and your spouse have reached the 50 year mark.
When I was a kid, I remember a cartoon where this dog was in jail and planning his escape. His escape plan was simple – dig a tunnel underneath the prison to get him past the wall (about 500 yards). He knew that this was a big task and he didn’t have any heavy excavating equipment so he used a teaspoon – and dug the tunnel one spoonful at time.
This of course took him several years to accomplish, but it’s a good metaphor for how to handle big tasks. Had this convict just sat there and complained or worried about his situation, he would have nothing at the end of several years. By performing a consistent action – even something as small as digging a tunnel one spoonful per day – he had completed an escape route.
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