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  • Nigel Vardy

Presenting a marathon…


When I say to someone that Engineering is similar to Mountaineering they think I’m talking rubbish, but youd be surprised how close they really are...

Both mountaineering and training need detailed planning. We need timescales, lists of resources, targets, budgets, contingencies etc. Here’s a few of my thoughts...

Every major climb needs a base camp. This is where we establish ourselves at the bottom of the peak and amass stores, equipment, tents and communications. It’s a place of relative comfort and safety. When you’re on the hill, you always need somewhere to run to if things vhangeeverything goes wrong. When I’m speaking I set up two base camps. One at home and one in my speaking environment.

  • Home is my safety, security, warmth and rest. I always clear the decks in my house when something big is coming up, so that I can walk through the door and relax if I need to. I prepare food in advance and (as I put it) get my shop in order.

  • Thespeakign environment has my supplies, comms and specialist equipment. Here I can prepare before the day begins, knowing that everything is in order when the audience arrives.

Good food is a huge subject which is easily sidelined. When we’re busy, it’s easy to eat take aways and pile on the calories…

  • I recently delivered a number of sessions over many weeks. A buffet lunch was provided every day. Though this makes catering simple, it becomes easy as the speaker to eat the same thing (and too much of it) everyday. You need to takje care of yourself, as the better you feel, the better you speak. I also prepared healthy meals at home and refused to fall into the take away trap.

  • On the mountain we need excellent food to keep us going. We’re burning huge amounts of energy and need to replace our weight loss. Also it can be difficult to get a balanced diet at 20,000ft, so any chance of fruit or veg is a must.

Efficiency is vital. Just 1% here and there can make a huge difference…

  • Delivering over days and weeks in different places can be exhausting. We must learn what is important so that we can save seconds and minutes, hone our delivery and timing, preserve our energy and still deliver at 110%

  • On the mountain we haul stores and build camps. We need to get our weights down to the minimum, whist still taking what we need. We do not run about all day and night, burning energy that we must preserve, we must sleep well to recharge ourselves for the coming day and we take rest days when required. We’re not machines! Some years ago in Chile I thought I could take on the world. I was young, strong and stupid. After eleven gruelling weeks of non stop action I collapsed and lay in bed for three days. It was a lesson I will never forge

Health is a huge issue. It’s so easy to just let go and hope that we stay well…

  • I keep physically fit and preserve my most important tool – my voice. Coughs and cold galore will try to disturb your voice, so preserve it and keep some medication at hand, just in case.

  • We cannot afford any respiratory illnesses on the mountain as our lungs have enough to cope with at altitude. Also we must remain physically strong to haul loads and climb whatever the mountain throws at us if we wish to achieve the summit.

Rest is vital if we are to succeed. As I’ve said before, we’re not machines…

  • Speaking, travelling, networking and the like can be mentally gruelling, so rest well and relax as much a spossible. I try to use public trasnport to events if it saves me the stress of driving. I enjoy getting lost in a book to let my mind relax.

  • We rest as much as possible on a mountaineering expedition to preserve our resources of energy. Also we must fight with high altitude and allow our bodies to cope with the meagre amounts of oxygen in the thinning atmosphere. We usually climb three days and then rest a day for this.

I could go on for hours, but there are a few of the basics. We must pace ourselves when huge projects appear in our lives (and I don’t just mean work). No-one will thank us when we keel over because of sickness or exhaustion. We must work as well as we can, be the best that we can be and celebrate our successes.

#Mountaineering #Engineering #Efficiency #Health #Rest #PSA #ProfessionalSpeakersAssociation

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