Public Speaking Rehearsal techniques to maximize your success

Lynda Katz Wilner in her blog article “Tee Up your Speech – Golf is like Public Speaking” gives twelve terrific tips for delivering a successful presentation. I like all of them but in particular tip #4 and thought I might add my thoughts as well.

Tip #4: Practice on the Driving Range to Develop Muscle Memory; Play When You’re on the Course.

Lynda highlights the importance of rehearsing out loud, so you know exactly how the words sound. I remember participating in a debate and as a public speaking coach, I was confident that I could effectively deliver my message and content. Because the topic was familiar my preparation involved just using self-talk – going over the content in my head. At the event the next day I started my 3-minute piece and as the words came out, I realised they were wrong in this context! So, the lesson is no matter how confident you are, or how many times you have given a speech, always rehearse out loud. So that’s the verbal element, we also need to look at the nonverbal.

When rehearsing we need to make sure we practice all the nonverbal elements such as pace pause, projection, movement, gestures, and facial expressions. One way to ensure success is to over-accentuate the nonverbal element. For example, if you were saying that something was a big opportunity, then when rehearsing stick your arms out as far as possible to emphasise the size of the opportunity – to the extent that it feels silly. The reason we do this is threefold. First, so we know what it feels like and can refine it and become comfortable with it. Second, because we know that if we rehearse at 160% of where we need to be, then when we go to do it live, we will be closer to 100% of where we need to be. The last reason is to ensure that our nonverbal aligns with the verbal. As Albert Mehrabian discovered in his research “one would be hesitant to rely on what is said when the facial, or the vocal, expression contradicts the words.”  For example if we say we are excited and don’t sound excited, then people are less likely to believe us.

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