I didn’t see it coming, but I was ready. All of the speaking and interviews I’ve done the past several years prepared me for an impromptu message I was asked to deliver last week.
Some people dread not having a power point or notes in front of them. And there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. It’s always good to be prepared and have everything laid out, right?
However, in my experiences there are always those moments where you will just have to stand up and deliver at a moment’s notice. You can’t allow fear to choke you. Matter of fact, if you’ve prepared, there is no need to fear. Just grab the mic!
On October 2, I was volunteering for the second year in a row to address several classes at Woodson K-8 Leadership Academy’s annual leadership summit in Houston. As I drove up to the school I received a call from the summit coordinator stating that the morning keynote speaker, whom I had referred, was not yet present.
The cafeteria was packed with eager students awaiting a message to kick off the event. She said, “Can you speak in his place?” And without thinking twice I said, “I got you.”
Once I hung up the phone I had a quick negative pop up, “Man, you’re not prepared to address them.” That thought only lasted a millisecond because I confidently walked up to the school and looked for the coordinator to find out where I needed to go.
When we approached the cafeteria door I could see that the principal of the school was trying to hold their attention until a speaker showed up. It was quiet in the room and I could tell they were bored. I started rubbing my hands together and walked to the microphone with a humble posture. The summit coordinator looked at me and said, “What’s wrong, you’re nervous?” I smiled and said, “Of course not.”
Originally that keynote was to be 30 minutes, however, I was told I had only 12 minutes. I told them, “Good, I only need ten.”
I asked the principal to skip the long introduction and I wasted no time going right to the core of the message I was inspired to give them at that moment: How Bad Do You Want Greatness?
I told them a short motivational story, encouraged them to become masters, and took questions from the audience. It was short and effective. No script. No notes. No slideshow.
When you love what you do, people can tell. Young people can definitely spot a phony. Many of them saw me in the hallways the rest of the morning and said they were inspired by what I said. One boy even said he could tell I truly want to see them be great.
When you put in the work, study hard in your field, there is no need to fear impromptu opportunities. What is within will naturally come out. Have you ever delivered an impromptu message? How did you handle it?
(Follow Brother Jesse on Twitter @BrotherJesse)