When I was in college, a team I was on entered one of those contests where you work all night for weeks on end and then show up to a hotel conference room in some obscure place to do a presentation for a grand prize of, well, pride, I guess.
At any rate, I thought my team was pretty great and absolutely did. not. want to let them down. And so, knowing that it’s possible for me to flub up big time, practiced my part of the presentation incessantly for about three weeks before the big day. I practiced in the shower. I practiced in the car. I practiced in front of my roommate and my parents. I practiced a lot.
By the time the contest came around, I had memorized what I wanted to say. Which I felt good about. And when I presented my part, I did it exactly as I had practiced it. (Nailed it!) But then, when we got our presentation scores, I had the lowest one. By far. Scribbled next to my score was this note “Too scripted.”
But I didn’t have a script! Or at least not a traditional script. Just one that had evolved in my head from practicing way too much, apparently.
I learned a lot from this experience and now, force myself to practice a presentation just three times through before the actual deal. Three times is perfect. The first time is terrible. The second time is also terrible. The third time has glimmers of greatness. The fourth time is real. And good.
The moral of the story: Authenticity is way more important than perfect.