A Tremendous Athlete’s Checklist for Speaking


Contributed by guest blogger, William Day, DPh, RPh
President/CEO of PCSA, Baton Rouge, LA

When William Day (pictured above wearing #2) read my advice about using a checklist to get ready to speak to an audience—just as a pilot uses a checklist before takeoff to assure success—he shared with me a checklist he used when he started speaking to college audiences.

Before you read his checklist, stated in athletic lingo, you will benefit from knowing his background. William was an all-state quarterback for Jackson Preparatory School, Jackson, MS, leading his team to win the state high school football championship. He excelled in track and baseball, too. William became a stellar defensive back for the Ole Miss Rebels football team.

Not only did I know William during his high school days and see him play, I was a high school classmate of his father, Eagle Day, a famed Ole Miss quarterback who played in the NFL and the Canadian Football League and entered several Halls of Fame.

For decades, William has been a leader in the pharmaceutical industry throughout Louisiana and the Nation. He stays connected with collegiate football as a rabid, tailgating LSU Tiger/Ole Miss fan—quite a switch from his Ole Miss days when LSU was a big rival.

Now, here’s the checklist that has helped William succeed in numerous speeches:

Athletic Approach to Speaking

1. Know your ability – do not try and speak on subjects that you do not have the expertise or knowledge base to present. Overestimating your talent always gets you beaten.

2. Know your strengths and weakness – evaluate yourself constantly in order to know your strengths and weakness and build your presentation around them. Your weaknesses tend to show up when the pressure is on, so know them and work to turn them into strengths.

3. Set your own pace; do not let adrenaline control you. Breathe! – control the pace. Know the speed that is within your comfort zone. If you find yourself losing your breath, chill, relax, and ask the audience a question to slow your pace.

4. Know your opponent (audience) – knowing your opponent (audience) is part of preparing for success. Study components surrounding their field and be familiar with their terms and use analogies or anecdotes within their scope of business.

5. Prepare physically and mentally – Body and mind preparation is the key. Remove all distractions prior to the presentation. Get a good night’s sleep. Eating right nourishes the body and the brain.

6. Do your Film Study (homework) – go over the details and repeat them until you are comfortable.

7. Prepare for the unexpected but do not dwell on it – prepare for slide failure, communications failure, but never spend too much time rehearsing. A simple run through on how to adjust is all that is needed. Prepare for what you can control and adapt to the things you cannot.

8. Pregame routine and walk through – try and have the same routine on the day of a presentation. Pregame meal, stadium walk around and uniform idiosyncrasies. I always have a light meal and a Sprite with lemon prior to my speaking along with my power ties and handkerchiefs. Then I arrive to the venue early, walk around and absorb the aura of the building. Make it your home

9. Focus on the present – all the preparation in the world will be fruitless if you consistently worry about what could happen, or if something does go wrong continue to think about it. Use the mind-set of a great cornerback: that play has come and gone, let’s get on with the next.

10. Play the game – let it go, be passionate about the opportunity, the subject and convey this passion to your audiences. It is like sports, it’s not always the most gifted athlete the fans come to love; no it is usually the most passionate players who leave it all out there on the field.


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