Why public speaking is like playing Rugby

For the day that’s in it (Come on Ireland!), I thought I would look at the similarities between preparing for a crucial six nations rugby match, and preparing for a wedding speech, a presentation or a job interview. At first glance, there may seem to be no connection, but let’s dig a bit deeper.

Irish Rugby

In order to perform at your best, you need to change the way you think about the task you’re performing. Some people talk about this in terms of a paradigm shift. Once you change the way you see the challenge, you can’t help but change the way you approach it. Is your presentation, interview or speech a performance? Yes, it absolutely is.

So, Ireland have a big game coming up against Scotland. Do they just rock up to Murrayfield and hope that everything will be ok? Absolutely not. How many times have you heard a commentator say ‘Straight off the Training Ground’ when a will executed move results in a score? How much have we heard over the last number of weeks about how meticulous Joe Schmidt is about his preparation and analysis. How much of the hard work is done before the team ever walks out onto the field  at 2.30 this afternoon?

Ask yourself this, If your speech was a rugby match, what would you do to prepare for it? How much would you practice, how well would you be drilled. If your job interview was a rugby match, would you have analysed previous performances and practiced and rehearsed answers to the most common questions (What are your weaknesses? Outline a time when you achieved something in your role that involved overcoming obstacles…).

You can’t just leave things to chance and assume things will work out. If you could, the Irish team would have just said ‘Hey, we’re professional rugby players, we’ll just rock up to Murrayfield and do what we do and it will be fine’. They haven’t, and you shouldn’t.

Find out how you can prepare for your wedding speech, interview or presentation by calling 085 1056699 or find details of the next Make That Speech Course HERE

What Can We Learn About Public Speaking From Professional Golfers?

Take a look at this clip of the number 1 ranked golfer in the world today, Rory McIlroy:

Actually, you can find similar videos for Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson and almost every other top layer on the tour on youtube right now.

Rory McIlroy became world number 1 in 2013 and promptly missed the cut in his next 3 events, and lost the world number 1 Spot.

So what we can we learn from the golfers?

Firstly, the sometimes you are going to have a bad day. In the case of a golfer, that doesn’t make you a bad golfer. Likewise, in the case of someone give a presentation or doing some form of Public Speaking, if, for whatever reason it doesn’t go as well as you would like, that does not inherently make you  bad at it. Too many people have one bad experience with Public Speaking, take that as conclusive proof that they aren’t good at it, and go out of their way to avoid doing it in the future. The fact that it went bad once, doesn’t mean it will or always has to go badly in the future.

Secondly, the importance of your mental state in your ability to perform. That’s equally applicable to Public Speaking (and almost every other endeavour) as it is to Golf. It’s pretty obvious that Rory McIlroy is an amazing golfer, but if his head’s not right, by his own admission, the golf’s not right either.

Thirdly, the importance of visualisation. Here’s what golfing legend Nick Faldo had to say about what makes Rory McIlroy so special and why is such a prodigious talent:

“But what I believe is his golfing DNA gift is his visualisation. I had to teach visualisation to myself but he’s got it naturally.

You just watch the way he looks at things. You watch the way he lines up bunker shots. He’s trying to hole them. He can see the perfect shot in his mind – and then can so often produce it.”