Well, I admit it. I had no idea it had been so long since my last post. I kept thinking I had posted that Power Point note “just last month” and I could get to another post soon.
Speech preparation is like that too. Most people I speak to, when I teach public speaking, are looking for the easy button (as we all wish we could find in many areas of our lives).
“How do I get better?” I am asked? “Prepare early and Practice” I answer.
And then I get “the look.”
You know, the one that says, “are you kidding me? When do I have time for that? I’m way too busy to add that to my schedule, between the kids, the laundry, the soccer games, working 10 – 12 hour days, mandatory learning lunches at the office, volunteering, walking the dog, and having absolutely no life for myself, when and how on earth am I supposed to prepare early and practice?”
I get it.
How can I not – it’s been six months since my last blog post. That’s practically criminal. I don’t even have kids and I’m too busy to do this. And this is significantly easier than creating and practicing a new presentation.
But, unfortunately, that doesn’t change my answer. Public speaking is a skill and like any other skill you have to:
1) Learn the rules, techniques and tricks to do it right and do it better; and,
2) Practice, do it some more, and then practice some more.
No one is an instant brilliant speaker. No one is an instant brilliant golfer or cook or writer or chess player. I’m sure I wasn’t all that great a speaker many years ago when I started out. But over time I refined and practiced, became more comfortable, studied the skill more (yes even via the graduate school route) and I practiced till I was blue in the face.
Just this week I did a Webinar on using PowerPoint more effectively so you don’t anesthetize your audience. Yes, my motto is “don’t use it,” but since most people ignore that advice I also teach how to use it properly.
I’ve given that particular presentation three or four times in the past year or so. Still, I re-worked my outline the day before, re-ordered some of the example slides, and practiced it once the morning before giving it.
Time flies. All the time flies away before we can do all the things we want to do.
That means we have to make choices. Do I take lunch with my partner or do I stay in my office and work on next week’s presentation? Do I leave at a normal hour (whatever that is) or do I take an extra hour to re-work my speech outline days before the presentation so I’m not stressed the day of? Do I go out for that glass of wine that I really really need, or do I work on finding the right attention getting device to start off my speech?
Do I work out at the gym, or work in on my speech?
It really all depends on how well you want to do when you give the speech. The better you want to do, the more your choices need to favor preparing in advance and practicing.
Because if you don’t make those choices, time will fly by and there you will be at midnight before your presentation kicking yourself in the butt for waiting until the last minute. And there you will be after your presentation telling yourself how much better you could have been, if you’d only been better prepared and had practiced.