Lots of elements can cause someone to make a faux pas while giving a speech or doing a media interview. Today let's look at one of those causes. One that increases the chance of making an error, increases the likelihood that you will be viewed as being defensive, and is self inflicted.
At a fund raising event in Richmond VA yesterday, Senator Barack Obama inflated the number of persons killed by tornadoes in Kansas by a factor of nearly 1,000. Twelve became 10,000.
One cause of the faux pas may simply have been that Obama is a senator, and senators speak of thousands, millions, and billions, not of ten or twelve.
But according to the Associated Press, later in the speech Obama appeared to realize his mistake. "There are going to be times when I get tired. There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make a mistake."
The cue card should read: Tired? DANGER AHEAD.
Most of us are not under the pressures of a presidential primary campaign. Still there will be times when we will have to give a speech or do an interview when we are tired. How can we avoid errors and looking defensive? And is physical weariness the only type we have to guard against? Here are some steps you can take.
When you are physically tired and weary:
- Plan ahead to prevent it. [Note: Type A personalities skip to #2] Include time in your schedule to relax and adjust. This is especially important if you are crossing several time zones.
- Learn to BE ON. A former colleague was in the green room at the Today Show when another guest, a popular actor know for his action films, came in, sat down, and dozed. When it was time, he went into the studio, sat down and while being miked appeared to doze some more. About 20 seconds before the show was coming back from commercials, he stood up, shook both fists and let out a war cry, sat down and gave a high-energy interview. As soon as the show went to break, he slouched down and looked exhausted. He knew how to BE ON when it counted.
Create a quick routine that will snap you into action. Something as simple as taking a deep breath, then loudly saying "let's go!," can bring out the energy you need. Remember, the audience doesn't care that you're tired or not feeling well. They want to know what you can offer them.
- Stay On Message. You should be doing this anyway, but it is especially critical when you are tired. Extemporizing and ad libbing then invariable leads to comments that will haunt you.
Being physically tired is not the only danger. You can also become tired of your messages. And that often causes you to change them. Don't! Remind yourself that although you may have said them dozens or hundreds of times, this audience is hearing them for the first time. Even if they've heard them before, they need to hear them again to retain them.
What techniques do you use to stay energized when tired? Share them with others by clicking on "Comments" below.