Many years ago when I had that money-making genius Dottie Walters as my leadership mentor, she talked about one of her preparation tips for her presentations. She said that in her mind’s eye she always filled the room with pink light. After one of her presentations, a delegate came up to her and asked ‘Did you see all that pink in the room?’ In that moment, she came to appreciate how vital her mind’s eye preparations were.
Unsurprisingly, part of my own preparation is smiling and laughter. In my mind’s eye I always fill the scene with smiling faces and the sound of genuine, spontaneous, good-natured laughter. I picture everyone enjoying themselves and appreciating the experience. I also fill the room with light and dedicate the session to the highest good and so place the outcome in the Universe’s invisible magic hands. This is probably the single most important piece of preparation I do.
After I’ve done that, every time, without peradventure, sooner or later I have two further experiences.
The first is I want to run away.
I get a strong fear feeling in my gut with an almost overwhelming need to run away as far and as fast as possible. When I was 16 I once made myself physically ill, I developed a palpable stomach condition that meant I couldn’t take part in an end-of-course team show and was bed-bound for 2 days. So I’ve definitely done the fear thing. Nowadays I know it as part of my preparatory phase. I still feel that fear and it always surprises me but I recognise it as my old friend and just breathe through it.
The final experience is supreme calm.
It’s a weird and almost unnatural feeling. It’s as though I’m enclosed in cotton wool. I feel impervious to everything. I feel utterly and unshakeably still inside. It’s my final phase, like a supreme one-pointed meditation, where the only thing on my radar is the imminent event.
I think this must be what I heard President Obama refer to as ‘quiet time’, that final stillness before you’re ‘on’. You’ve done everything you can, you’ve done whatever preparation you’ve done, and the rest is just going to happen.
I find this cycle operates whether it’s a presentation for a large group, a 1-to-1 session, or even for an important matter of the heart. I experience this same complete cycle. In a funny way, it has become reassuring, a sign that I’m on track, a sign I’m prepared for the ‘event’.
How do you prepare?