Skateboarding & Presenting 101

Have you ever heard the sound that is made when someone breaks their leg???? It is so alarmingly loud that you will ABSOLUTELY never forget it. Unfortunately I heard this sound once back in college when my cousin, an amazing guy but who was not a skateboarder tried to drop into our halfpipe. At the last second as he was dropping down he jutted out his leg which straightened and hit the flat of the ramp dead on with impact and snapped it inward. Lookup the definition of blood curdling scream, there would be a picture of this scene!

The reality is that he probably shouldn't have been dropping in. He had just started practicing rolling around at the base of the ramp, and should have gotten in a ton more reps to have been more prepared. When it comes to skating, practice is absolutely paramount to not only improve but to avoid injuries. Here is a video of my son from last weekend where he learned 3 new tricks in one day. It took him a ton of tries but eventually he nailed them.

Building up to those tricks however were countless hours of practice with lower level tricks and ledges and curbs, which had been a stepping block to the tricks of today. This got me thinking about presenting. How often do we go out there and present content or materials without practicing? How often do we compare ourselves to other presenters without taking into account the thousands of reps they have done to get that good. When we have a new topic or themes do we just go out there guns blazing the first time and nail it or does it take practice?

Here are 3 easy tips you can do to make sure you nail your presentation with new content.

1. Utilize your phone

  • Seems easy enough, we all have one, yet barely anyone does it. We have all heard the old idea that you should practice in front of the mirror. While I don’t like to be negative to anyone’s ideas, this doesn't work very well because a mirror forces you to think about what you are doing instantaneously while you are doing it, which pulls you out of the moment and intentionalism of your content.

  • Filming yourself, allows you to look at the phone and pretend it is the audience and then go back afterwards and analyze every bit of it. Your stance, hand gestures, pitch, tone and most importantly the content.

2. Practice using only bullets

  • When you are presenting new content it is very important to practice your presentation without a fully written speech. To have a firm grasp on the content you need to understand it so well that bullets are the only queues you need.

  • Every speech, meeting, presentation, etc that you have written out should inevitably be broken down into 3 bullet points, or better yet bullet words. Typically 3 main points to anything is about maxing out what someone can learn and take away anyways, so it usually works out perfectly.

  • Take out a post it note and stick it to the back of your phone that you have out to film your practice run. List out the 3 large bullets on the post it note and use that as your guide, and once you can nail that you know that you are fluent in the content.

  • Side note, I once had a HUGE speech to give in front of over 800 people. I was pretty nervous and although I had practiced a ton just for security and peace of mind I actually wrote out my 3 main bullets in permanent marker on the on the top of my left hand. Just 3 words, but they would be the key to unlocking any pause if I was ever in trouble!

3. Stop trying to always do everything yourself!

  • Since you have already committed to filming a practice run through, turn to a mentor, a peer, a friend and ask them for advice on your new presentation.

  • I get it, this is super vulnerable, this is nerve racking...what if they say it sucks, what if they clown it??? First off, a true mentor, peer or friend who you reached out to with sincerity would never do this (and if so, probably time for you to lose their number, you do not need people like that in your life), so if they do provide you with feedback that is not the greatest wouldn’t you rather know ahead of the actual presentation?

  • Most likely they will empower you with positive feedback, minor tweaks and get you in a really excited and better informed place to present from.

Personally, I have been responding to anyone who comments or sends me DM’s about the blog or my LinkedIn posts with the same above message. Send me your presentations, I’ll give it my best critique! I always spend Sunday nights working on my blog or LI posts, and since I have been doing this only 3 people EVER have taken me up on it.

At the end of the day, no matter how you practice, just remember that if you are going to drop into a huge halfpipe of a presentation, you should probably take a few lessons first!

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© 2016 by BRETT STEWART THORNTON