March 31, 2011

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SMG Talk

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect. It’s a familiar adage that many people abide by to learn to ride a bike, play a sport or cook a dish.

Being great at something first requires a certain level of familiarity with the chosen subject; for example, a person who wishes to be a great violinist must become intimately knowledgeable about playing the violin. Since familiarity is achieved through practice, the person must practice the violin to strengthen his or her skill base. Practice usually requires repetition. So, the person must practice over and over again to become a master of the violin.

This process works much the same way for a person who wishes to become a great speaker. Giving a great speech generally requires more than just a few mental run-throughs. It requires practice, practice and more practice.

Below are a few practice tips for aspiring speakers to enhance the skills needed to deliver great speeches.

Write it down. Sometimes people can have a false sense of familiarity with their material which may dissuade them from committing words to paper. Even if you’re giving a speech about your most vivid memory, write it down. Writing down your speech will force you to sort through your thoughts and help you shape them into a compelling and linear story.

Say it aloud. Go through your speech out loud and in front of a mirror. By doing this, you will be able to time yourself, notice facial expressions and posture, listen to tone and begin to understand where you have holes or need transitions. Rehearsing your speech aloud will help you determine if your content is as strong as it needs to be and effectively drives your main points home.

Say it in front of people. Once you’ve rehearsed your speech out loud for yourself, try delivering it in front of a small group of family members or friends. They may be able to pick up on odd gestures or disjointed content that you’ve overlooked. This environment may also more closely mimic the feeling of giving an actual speech. Experiencing nervousness and distractions here may help minimize your level of anxiety during the real presentation.

Remember that speaking is an art, and much like playing the violin, it can be mastered through practice.

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