“I can’t wait to get out there and do this. I can’t wait. It’s so good. Don’t you think, Bill?”
Those were Jack Welch’s words just before he flew out to San Francisco to take part in a panel discussion sponsored by Bechtel in honor of its 100th anniversary. Welch, along with Charles Schwab, former Secretary of State George Schultz, and a couple of other notables, was asked to deliver an eight-minute talk on the subject: “What have we learned over the past 100 years that will help us face the next 100?”
Bill Lane, who helped write Welch’s speeches for twenty years, tells the story in one of my favorite books on presentations, Jacked Up. He tells how Welch’s performance “stunned the audience” with its passion and quality of thought and perfection of delivery.
If you get up in the morning of the presentation, bouncing up and down with anticipation; if you can’t wait to show them what you have put together for them, how can you help but deliver an outstanding performance that is practically guaranteed to achieve your purpose?
I can’t wait to get out there and do this. If you felt that way before your next presentation, would you even worry about pre-speech jitters?
I can’t wait. With a mindset like that, is it any wonder that Welch stood out, even in that distinguished company?
It’s so good. You should not even stand in front of an audience unless you truly believe this. It’s what they deserve; it’s what you owe yourself.
Here’s the catch, though: if you want to feel this way, you have to truly earn it. You have to pour your heart into it: put in time, depth of thought, and imagination into every important presentation—and they’re all important.
Lane recounts that he and Welch first spent about eight hours together putting down ideas; followed by another eight to twelve hours each refining the presentation, all adding up to about four or five days of work for eight minutes in front of an audience.
Was it worth it? One of the most highly compensated humans on the planet thought it was worth that much of his own time for an eight minute presentation, because he refused to deliver anything but his best and was willing to do what it took to ensure that.
I can’t wait to get out there and do this. If you can take that mindset into any presentation, you will be unbeatable. Are you willing to pay the price?