I’ve long been a fan of Dave Brailsford’s ‘aggregation of marginal gains’ principle. Working with a number of Olympians has taught me the value of attention to detail; the benefits of taking care of the small things in order to improve the big picture. I apply this to my own work, and I offer it to those I help with their communication skills. It’s a simple, manageable way of growing your own confidence and being more effective – of moving from bronze to gold medal position. Here are a few examples:
- I’m in the habit of numbering my cue cards – most helpful when I dropped them all on the way to the stage at a corporate event. An easy job to get them back in order and maintain composure.
- A lapel microphone has a battery pack attached to it via a cable. This ideally needs to be put on a belt or waistband, hidden from view. Impossible if you’re wearing a dress. A good idea therefore to ask the organisers of the event about the microphones, and choose your outfit accordingly. You’ll potentially be distracted (and your performance diminished) if you end up holding the pack or having to sit on it.
- In rehearsal for a corporate event, my client discovered that the step up to the stage was very high. She was worried she might trip or stumble or that her ascent would be inelegant. We asked the crew to put a metal box there so that she had two small steps instead. No doubt she arrived at the lectern feeling (and therefore presenting) in a more confident manner.
So I was delighted to read this article in the guardian by Robert Twigger about ‘micromastery’, and how focusing on small things is the key to contentment.
I particularly like the idea of an ‘entry trick’ – something which elevates your performance and leads to an immediate payoff. In communication terms this might be a fabulous opening slide; a brilliant quotation; a prop; a killer statistic. It could even be arriving early for a meeting and thereby feeling ‘settled’ in the space before the others appear. The opposite of this: you arrive late; the first word they hear from you is ‘sorry’; your credibility, ‘presence’ and confidence are all undermined.
During your preparation for a speaking engagement/meeting/networking event there will be numerous elements which will either trip you up or enhance your confidence. (Who’s speaking before you and what are they saying? Are they contradicting or duplicating your content?). It’s entirely to our benefit to take control and apply a measure of Olympian rigour to the process. It worked for Hoy, Twigger and Adlington so why not for us?