I once had a conversation with basketball great and super entrepreneur Ervin “Magic” Johnson. In the middle of our chat, I asked him a question: Were you ever nervous before or during a big game?
He looked at me and quickly answered,
“All of them. But I had worked hard and I was prepared. Because I was prepared, I knew that my confidence would kick in when I needed it to. And it always did.”
His body of work as a basketball player and businessman has proven that his confidence did kick in.
What I learned from this simple exchange and by working with world-class entrepreneurs is that they are usually confident people. And their confidence almost always comes from them being prepared.
But there’s a huge caveat.
You see, they don’t prepare in the manner you might imagine. Sure, they study, observe and execute. In fact, they might practice or rehearse interviewing for hours. They go over key points over and over. But, what’s really different about them is how they prepare.
Well, to start, they do what Stephen Covey suggested in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: they begin with the end in mind. In other words, they see the end result and then make changes to match that result.
Allow me to share with you what I mean.
Okay, picture the end of your pitch, presentation or interview.
Seriously. Take a moment and see how your either will end. Actually, see how you want it to end.
Specifically, what actions do you see the audience members taking five minutes, five hours and five days after your pitch, talk or interview is over?
Are they surrounding you asking probing questions? Are they asking for a demonstration of your product or scheduling a follow up meeting? Are they going to their computers or mobile device and downloading your app?
What do you see?
Now, this is key: write in excruciating detail the specific actions you want them to take. See yourself having a conversation next to the stage with a lady who is carrying a conference tote bag. What exactly is she saying to you? What is she wearing? What’s her personality like?
Don’t skip this step. It is critically important for delivering a killer pitch, interview or presentation.
You see, what you are doing is creating a vision for your pitch, speech or interview. You are seeing the end.
Now, once you’ve done that, work backwards.
“What specific statement did I make that caused the lady to approach me? Or, was there a story that I told?”
Continue with such questions until you have a clear vision for your pitch, interview or presentation.
This simple exercise will, among many other things, reduce your fear and increase your confidence. Now, it won’t eliminate fear. But, it will most definitely help you manage your fear and build your confidence.
When you build the future, in your mind, you will be seeing and feeling your interview or presentation for the first time. As such, your actual talk or interview will be the second time you’ve delivered it.
Of course, your talk or interview won’t always go as you envisioned it. That’s called life. Still, this exercise will give you the confidence that’s necessary to move others to action.
See it, believe it, and do it.