On Monday I was listening to an intriguing interview with horse racing expert Andy Beyer from the Washington Post. His comments to Mitch Levy from Sportsradio 950 KJR indicate that he believes that jockey Calvin Borel was the reason that Mine That Bird didn’t win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. He feels that Borel was too overconfident and didn’t do his due diligence in preparations leading up to the race. Borel had never raced at the Belmont Stakes; a track that is the longest in the country. Beyer said not only did Borel not do a practice ride or walk the track, he didn’t even watch any of the preceding races that day. In the end, it cost him the chance to immortalize himself in the sport as the only jockey to win a triple crown riding two different horses.
How well do you research your track?
If you do any speaking on a platform – Toastmasters competitions, Association meetings, Banquets, Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce – then you should be checking out your track prior to the event.
One of my favorite stories about this comes from my friend Jim Key, who was the 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking. The championship that year was in Atlanta and when he checked out his stage, he found that it had a very pronounced squeak in several spots (in fact you can hear them in his winning presentation). Because Jim was diligent in detection, he was prepared for the results of where he would be walking. Had he not done this, the squeaks may have distracted him just enough to keep him form winning. Just like in horse racing, speech competitions are normally won by a nose!
Regardless your reason for being on stage, make sure you check it out in advance. Walk your speech and check for squeaks, nuances, areas where you might not be as visible, and areas where you might have had props. The better prepared you are, the better you will be able to deliver your game-winning speech.
(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved