“I don’t want to practice because I want to come across as natural when I speak,” a recent referral told me. “Oy vey,” I could hear my late Aunt Maxine saying in response, the equivalent of “Oh, no! Really? What is she thinking?”
In contrast, every weekend at the park near my house, you see people of all ages, sizes and nationalities out practicing a sport. I enjoy watching their antics as I do my own morning walk.
In one big field you’ll find about 30 men divided into two teams, all trying with loud and enthusiastic shouting to win a soccer game. Across the park, a group of six men are doing their best to kick an American-style football. At the baseball mound is a coach with a raspy voice guiding future stars on their batting and catching moves. On the tennis courts, racquets swing back and forth as another set of future stars make their moves count. And further on, there’s a lone man in a cap with two dozen golf balls on the ground, hitting them, one at a time, as far as he can.
Just as my neighbors demonstrate commitment to their sports passion, no winning athlete – or dancer – or actor would ever dream of performing without extensive practice. Yet, many people I talk with about leadership speaking remain unconvinced that vigorous practice, indeed, any practice, is necessary.
From my experience, you can appear “natural” and confident because you have rehearsed. You prepare mentally, physically and even spiritually so you can handle whatever comes up as you speak.
How can you get the most from practicing? Here are some proven tips:
- Mentally, create, review and edit content that you’re quite sure will resonate with the internal team or external audience you’re addressing.
- Physically, try out using your hands, your voice, your visuals, and how you stand or move.
- Spiritually or perhaps psychologically, accept that you might not be able to control everything that happens, except your own reaction. When you know your stuff and believe in what you’re saying, you are less likely to be thrown off your game.
- Reduce stress on yourself by allocating as much time as possible in advance of your scheduled presentation or speech to prepare the content, and then rehearse its delivery. The longer and more important the presentation, the more time you’ll probably need to practice.
- Stand before a mirror or a video camera, or another live person, and say aloud whatever you plan to share. The written word and the spoken word are definitely not the same, and you want to test out loud to be sure your words connect.
Let me know how your presentation goes!
Get Tips to Capture Their Attention When You Begin Speaking! Click here to enjoy this free excerpt of How to Open to Keep Their Attention on You and Not Their Phones, a workshop Anne B. Freedman recently provided the Fort Lauderdale Chapter, National Association of Women Business Owners.