My husband Charlie and I have many of the same cultural interests. We like the same kinds of plays and movies, for example. But when left to our own (literal) devices, we often choose to watch different things.
Recently Charlie said that he wanted to show me a video of this guy, Matt, whose YouTube channel is called “Matt’s Off Road Recovery.” This YouTube channel is exactly what it sounds like: Matt’s company specializes in recovering vehicles that have gotten stuck while off roading. At first glance, this is…not something I would be interested in. At all.
But a few minutes into the first video, I was riveted. Matt and his team are extremely capable and experienced, and each video shows them expertly solving a new challenge. A truck is hanging half-on, half-off a road. A car is stuck in a rut on an extreme slope. A bunch of different vehicles have gotten mired in the sand, and extricating each of them has to happen in a certain order.
Watching Matt and his team of men and women assess the situation, come up with a plan, and execute it is watching expertise in action, and I love that. But the videos wouldn’t be interesting if everything always went according to plan. In fact, what’s fascinating about the show is that they have to make changes and adjust on the fly. They have an idea of what they’re dealing with on their way to the call, but a rigid plan would only hamper their ability to adapt in the moment.
Instead, Matt and his team rely on their experience and their ability to read the situation to be able to solve each unique problem. And since, as I’ve written before, everything is a metaphor for everything else, this applies to public speaking.
When you prepare for a speech or presentation with a rigid plan, what happens when you have to adjust on the fly? What happens when you have half as much time as you prepared, or twice as much? What happens when your tech doesn’t work, or you need to respond to something that is happening in the room?
Matt and his team are confidence personified. Not because they swagger, or tell the camera exactly what’s going to happen, or have the ability to follow a plan. They exude confidence because they have the experience to rise to occasion, and the humility to respect the situation they find themselves in.
Speakers we love to watch can do this too. We trust them to be prepared, yes, and to be able to flex in the moment to meet us where we are. We describe them as confident when they are present with us, they don’t seem scripted or over-rehearsed, and rise to the occasion of being onstage in front of us.
It can seem like a tall order, I know. But take a few minutes and watch Matt. You’ll see what I mean.
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