Don't let perfection become the enemy of good
In 1995, I walked into the Channel 8 newsroom in La Crosse, Wisconsin, eager for my first day as a television reporter. I was assigned to do a live shot from the post office to talk about tax day and the rush of people trying to get their returns filed on time.
I had trained for this moment. In graduate school we took turns practicing “live shots” over and over again. I was ready to show that I could nail this assignment.
I took my place in front of the post office. The lights went on. I heard the anchor introduce me. And... I stumbled my way through 90 seconds of awkwardness, frequently checking my notepad to remind myself what I was going to say. It was not the start that I had imagined for my broadcasting career.
Despite my preparations, I tripped over a very common mistake. As the old saying goes, I let “perfect become the enemy of good.”
In my early reporting days I meticulously wrote out every word of my live shots on a notepad. I tried to memorize clever turns of phrase and descriptive language. Inevitably, my efforts to recall exact words ended up making me freeze and stumble in the moment.
This is a very common issue that I come across when I’m coaching people for interviews. Whether someone is preparing for a news media appearance, a job interview, or a meeting with a college admissions officer, there is a temptation to try to be too perfect, and that quest for perfection can often get in the way.
It’s telling that often the hardest questions for people to answer are the simplest - “Tell me about yourself” or “Tell me about your organization.” People feel pressure to recite their mission statement or to recall exact language from their resume or website. It’s hard to connect with someone when your brain is spinning, trying to recall a sentence that you tried to memorize.
Coaching can help you let go of the need to be perfect. I can help you focus on the key points you want to make and the stories that reinforce those points. This doesn’t mean you don’t practice. It means we work to find the right balance between being prepared and coming off as rehearsed.
As I got more comfortable as a reporter, I stopped writing out my live shots. Instead, I would simply jot a bullet or two down to prompt me if needed. I knew the information and I trusted my ability to have a conversation with the viewers to explain an issue and tell a story.
Preparation is important. But once you know the basics of what you want to say, you have to trust yourself to say it.
If you are interested in coaching to help you with your interview or presentation skills, True Voice Communications can help. Please visit https://www.truevoicecommunications.com/coaching/ to learn more.