How can Practice Help?

PracticeLast week I received this question about the need for practice:

“I’m comfortable with speaking in front of people and without a script BUT I hate practicing – whether it’s by myself or in front of others.  Do I really have to practice?  I feel only the ‘real’ experience is going to allow me to speak as I really want it.  Why practice if I’m not going to be repeating it the same exact way?”

I talk a lot about preparing for a presentation so you can feel confident before stepping onto the platform and so that you can give your very best to the audience.  You want to rock your presentation for the audience’s experience, as well as your own.

Practice can help you nail it – both with what you say, and more importantly, how you say it.

I do not script my WHOLE talk – I have an outline and bullet points of what I want to talk about, and then I add script for sections that are either new OR those I want to do especially well.

I pay particular attention to the intro, the transitions from one point to the next, sound bites, the offer to the audience, and the close.

Even though I might not repeat the script word-for-word – I find that by practicing it repeatedly, when it comes to the ‘real thing’ the words come out beautifully, almost word-perfect and yet sounds natural.

That is the beauty of practice and preparation – a script will sound natural because you have spoken it so many times that you know when to say it and how to say it.

You will get your important points across the way you want to plus be able to add those ‘in-the moment’ bits.

As well as what to say, you want to rehearse HOW to say it –

  • On which words do you place emphasis?
  • How do you vary your tempo?
  • Where do you pause?
  • How do you gesture, stand or move at various points of the talk?

You can practise the whole talk, or you could run through the outline and specific pieces with the focus on the HOW.

I must confess that I am guilty of doing some talks with less script and rehearsal, and these talks just do not go as well.  Every opportunity to speak is important and so it reinforces to me the benefit of practice, practice, practice!

This applies to a full presentation and even when being an emcee with only a few lines to speak.  These lines are important to the smooth running of an event, so be prepared.

If you want to rock your next presentation then do the work ahead of time – remember champions are made in training!


6 replies to How can Practice Help?

  1. Thanks for the reminder Annette – and a timely one at that as I have a big presentation next week and really do need to schedule more time to practiCe before that…..

  2. Thank you for emphasizing the importance of practice. When I first started speaking, I tried to write a script and then practice it until I could recite it perfectly. This strategy did not go well. Today, I write my outline and then practice the presentation until it flows. While the wording is never quite the same, the flow is natural and my message is more personal. Practice isn’t for perfection…it is for peace of mind.

  3. Thanks Teresa. I like the idea of practice for peace of mind. It definitely can help you relax pre-presentation knowing you are prepared.

  4. Great advice. I never write a script word for word. I make sure I have the main points down and then practice what I am going to say from there. I want my presentations to be as natural as possible and this works really well for me.

  5. Thanks Toni. So important to find out what works well for you, plus be open to trying new ways – you never know how you can take your presentation to another level.

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