“Jeopardy” is a “crucible.”
So says Ken Jennings, who holds the record for most consecutive wins on “Jeopardy” — he won 74 games back in 2004, and walked away with a total of over $US2.5 million in prize money.
“A lot of people are very good at ‘Jeopardy’ on their couch and assume that they’re just going to kick butt,” he told Business Insider. “And then they go on stage and they realise: It’s a whole different ball game.”
There are bright lights and cameras zooming in on your face and — oh, right — the prospect of losing thousands of dollars. Even if you know the questions to the answers, you can still sweat and stammer and get everything wrong.
“I was aware of that,” Jennings said — and he prepared accordingly.
Specifically, Jennings said he tried to recreate the experience of being on the game show while he was practicing. That way, it would feel less intimidating.
Jennings got the call informing him that he’d been selected to appear on “Jeopardy” just three weeks before the date of his audition. In that time, he said, he would watch the show and stand behind his recliner, pretending it was a podium.
And using one of his son’s toys as a makeshift buzzer, Jennings would play along with the show.
On the day of the audition, Jennings said, it was still overwhelming. But “I sort of slid into some zone like, ‘Oh yeah, this is the thing I do every night standing behind my recliner at 7:30.’ And I could sort of get by on muscle memory.”
Today, Jennings is a freelance writer; he’s written several books for kids and adults and is currently finishing up another. He recently partnered with employee-learning platform Bridge by Instructure to create an online course about memory skills.
Jennings emphasised the importance of both confidence and comfort — whether you’re appearing on “Jeopardy” or giving a presentation at work — so that you walk in “feeling like you’re the most prepared person in the room.”
“The sense of mastery and peace you get from that — it’s very real.”
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