I've been a boxer and I've been a speaker. I spent hours in the gym sweating, to be a championship boxer. I've spent hours at home and on courses mentally sweating to be a championship speaker.
COMPARING SPEAKING TO BOXING: 6 Rounds Of Championship Speaking.
No one who steps through the ropes of a boxing ring is a coward. No one who steps onto the stage (podium) is a coward. You might not be a very good boxer, but once you put a foot inside those ropes, no one has the right to call you a coward. You may not be a world champion speaker yet but no one standing up to speak is a coward. You have shown up for the fight.
The hardest part of training is getting out of the chair. Most boxers would rather fight than train. Training is hard, sick inducing, gut-wrenching physical torture. But no matter how hard it is the hardest part is often getting out of the chair to get to the gym.
The hardest part of speaking is often standing up from the chair and taking the first step. Many speakers can find a hundred things to do before they sit down in the chair, and take that first look at the piece of paper which holds their presentation.
Once in the gym, the boxer is committed to 60-90-120 minutes of hard work. Each section of the work is pre-planned and subject only to the clock. 6 x 2 minute skipping with 30-second breaks: 3 x 1 minute on the Heavy bag and 30 seconds break: Sparring 6 x 3-minute rounds with a minutes rest. The boxer’s session is totally under control.
The professional speaker has to have the same discipline every time they show up at an event. It is the discipline of practising the presentation over a preset number of words which makes the difference.
Every boxer has a trainer. An older figure with experience of the fight game and how to become a better fighter than you were when you first walked up those rickety stairs and opened the door into the sweat stained, liniment smelling room. The trainer knows your every strength and weakness and decides on what to work on in any specific session.
Most speakers have a mentor whether physical or virtually. Someone they can turn to for guidance throughout their careers, someone who not only knows their strength as speakers but also their weaknesses. Someone who can say today we’re going to work on your Turning up, your Standing up and your Speaking up.
Every boxer has a manager. Someone who can organise the fights, the venues, the fees and the opponents. The manager makes sure the boxer is being trained by the right trainer, gets the right opponent in the right location and for the right price to advance the career.
The speaker has an agent or is self-managed. The criteria are the same. Are you following the structure set by your mentor? Are you in the right place at the right time to complete a project? Are you being booked into the right speaking/business events or the right market for your style of speaking? Are you asking the right questions?
ROUND 6: FIGHT NIGHT:
The big night. All the preparation has been done the manager has set the fee for the fight, and the trainer has prepared the boxer to the best of their ability, and the venue is ready. The fighter leaves the dressing room, gloved up and in their favourite clothes. The music plays as they make their way to the ring and the ropes appear. The crowd cheer their encouragement as the fighter climbs through the ropes.
The speaker turns to face his audience, the crowd applause in their ears.