Have you ever been to a conference or presentation and a speaker is so good that you envy her ability to stand in front of a room and effortlessly speak? You think she is just a natural or chalk it up to her being an extrovert. But what if I told you that she practiced several times in front of a mirror. Or, that she had to give herself a pep talk in the bathroom right before she went on stage. Or, that she couldn’t eat breakfast because her stomach would have betrayed her.
Of course there are people that are naturally talented but, even the most talented people practice. They aren’t winging it. And, you shouldn’t either. Before your annual review, go over points that you want to make and practice those points until you aren’t stumbling over your words. If you have to give an update at a meeting, jot down a few talking points and say them out loud once or twice beforehand. And, if you have to give a speech or presentation, practice. This doesn’t mean you should memorize every single word but, you should have an outline that functions as your road map. Just like a dress rehearsal in theater, set yourself up for success with your own dress rehearsal: even if the rehearsal is in the car, the bathroom, or the elevator. Just stop winging it.