Practice presentations until you can’t go wrong.

October 26, 2016 - 10:16 am

Nick Saban and his University of Alabama teams have won four national championships, and he once appeared on a Forbes magazine cover as “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports.”

A couple of months ago, I attended an Alabama practice and was intrigued by the repetitiveness of the team’s drills and scrimmages.

“Everybody thinks you practice something until you get it right,” Saban says. “You really practice until you can’t get it wrong. There’s a difference.”

What does he mean by that? To my mind, Saban is saying that if players just practice until they get it right, they stop too soon. They have to keep practicing and improving until they won’t get their executions wrong when facing a variety of teams and circumstances.

That same logic applies when preparing to present ideas to decision makers. If you only practice a presentation until you think you’ve got it right — especially if you’re just running through the presentation in your head — you’ll probably stop way too soon.

Because every time you present an idea, even if you’re presenting to the same boss or client, it’s a new ballgame. Different idea. Different considerations. Different concerns.

So it’s important to keep practicing — out loud and in the light of day — until you’re confident you won’t get the presentation wrong when facing the specific needs, questions and objections of your decision makers.

We’ll never be 100 percent perfect with a presentation. But dedicated, deliberate practice will polish our delivery and help keep us from heading in wrong directions, no matter the circumstances.

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