I don't know how much you love Bob Marley. I don't even know how much you've listened to Bob Marley.
I tried to quantify how many times I'd heard the Legend album and I seriously couldn't come up with the right math. There were periods of high school, for example, where I listened to that album several times a day.
But it wasn't until last week that I learned something new about Bob that made me love him even more.
How to Practice Presentations like Bob Marley
Bob Marley was a young man when he and the Wailers first got together to start making music. So young, in fact, that their manager was nervous for them.
Nervous about what, you might ask?
He was nervous about their nervousness.
Unlike the stories you might have heard, just about everyone gets nervous before going on stage. The issue is how you prepare to deal with it.
So do you know how Bob's manager got him and the Wailers to learn to deal with their stress?
He would take them, late at night, into a graveyard and have them perform there – at like 2 am.
But there's no way you can get trained for the anxiety and stress of a presentation or performance simply by talking about it.
Our bodies don't all handle stress the same way.
Knowing how you'll react, and then getting comfortable with it, is pretty much the only way you can get past the craziness that comes from the fear of getting on stage.
Do you know how long Bob Marley spent practicing at a cemetery? 2 years.
What can you do to prepare for the stress of public speaking?
Here are three ways you can prepare without hitting up your local cemetery.
The first way you can handle that stress is to practice your presentation in front of your peers. Invite several peers – folks you know, staff you work with – and deliver the presentation to them. It will be less intimidating to some, but you might also find it just as scary – since you know these folks. But trust me, they'll be nice.
A second way is to practice your presentation in front of strangers. Find a meetup that aligns well with your topic and ask if you can present at their next event. This will help you in several ways – by giving you more chances to deliver your presentation, but also give you a chance to test jokes, quotable statements, and all that good stuff. It will also help you test your timing – helping you determine if you'll go too long or move too fast.
The last way you can try is to practice alone. I do this regularly to test timing. I record my self and tell sections of my talks to my iphone so I can play it back and hear it. I can also see if I'm taking too long to get the point across. These days I do this at the start of my practice, but for new presenters, I normally tell them to try this last, because the other feedback will provide greater returns than this approach.
So there you go. A lesson from the Bob Marley school of public performances.
See you around the cemetery.