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Public Speaking Strategies

 





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Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. - Collosians 4:6

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And in similar fashion, I'd venture to say that the primary reason soooooo many public speakers are terrible during their delivery, is simply because they didn't have the sense to practice at home.


Public Speaking Strategies - The Power of Practice...



In his great book "Confessions of a Public Speaker" Scott Berkun tells the story of how he, before any of his talks, presents his entire speech to the mirror in his living room, acting the whole thing out two or three times, in his underwear.

Berkun is a smart man, and it's the reason he doesn't struggle with umm's and aaah's during his speeches, but is able to focus on maximizing the communication that he propels from the stage.

Want to know if a speaker has practiced?  Any of these is a dead giveaway that speakers are likely giving this talk for the very first time ever:

- Getting confused with their notes and papers

- Messing up slides

- Reading a speech word for word while the audience is likely snoring away

- Repeating themselves continuously, i.e. saying the same thing in a different way a few times in an attempt to stall time while they reorganise their thinking.

- Stumble over their sentences (look out for excessive fillers).

In similar fashion as Scott Berkun, I've always had the habit of going through my entire speech a few days before delivery, and I repeat the ritual a few times in the days leading up to the live talk.

And you know what my initial reaction is after my first practice run in front of the mirror?  "Thank GOODNESS that delivery did NOT take place in front of an audience, because it was terrible."

My first, thankfully very private delivery always leaves me wondering whether I really am a competent public speaker.  Can someone be so clumsy with their sentences?  And why do the words seem to struggle out of my mouth, as if they'd much rather live in my brain?

But the second run inevitably leaves me feeling better, since the delivery starts improving as my thinking gets better organised around my notes and the talk starts taking shape in my head.


So Make Mistakes In Private



Like me, I'm sure you'd much rather blunder and make an idiot of yourself in front of the mirror or cupboards, and  gladly soak up all the boo's coming from the furniture in your apartment, than in front of a crowd of people who came long distances to see your talk, and possibly paid money for it.

Like all public speaking strategies and tips, this makes sense.  Right?  Sure it does!  And still, many public speakers do NOT practice.  It just doesn't seem to register that, like in all areas of live, practice does make perfect in public speaking. 

So be wise, and follow the single most important piece of advice you'll probably get from this site: 

Practice your speech in its entirety, at a private place, a day before the actual delivery. 

It's the one key thing that sets mediocre speakers apart from those that shine.
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After another great round of professional golf and an astonishing hole-in-one from the world-class South African golfer Gary Player, a sports commentator was said to have proclaimed that he was indeed incredibly lucky

After the game, when Player heard this, he apparently replied: "I may be lucky, but I've noticed that the harder I practice, the luckier I get."
Public Speaking Strategies
So here's one of those public speaking strategies and tips that you'll only ignore if you don't care about your performance or success:  Practice & Rehearsing builds confidence for any speaker.
Now the power of practice may, by now, be cliché to you.  Unnecessary, anecdotal evidence that does not deserve repetition, and yet, in the realm of public speaking it's amazing how many presenters approach the lectern, speech in hand, without having practiced their delivery back home, in the privacy of their bathroom, attics, or anywhere the only audience will be the four walls around you.

Ask yourself why an artform like public speaking would be any different from golf or football?  Pro golfers, who walk out onto the green without having practiced the week before, will inevitably deliver terrible shots.