You know that old exchange: “Excuse me. How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer? “Practice, practice, practice.”
Everyone who communicates formally with others knows they need to practice before ‘game day’. “Practice”, however, doesn’t include a cursory read-through of the material to yourself. You’re going to present out loud, right? Then practice that way!
If you are using a powerpoint deck, don’t just look at the slides and think, “right, I know this one.” Stand and run through the material as you would do it in front of an audience. Say the words out loud as you present. Are you stumbling in the same places each time? By saying the words and phrases out loud, you’ll better be able to tell what wording is working for you and what needs to be changed. You’ll also be able to tell when you’re spending too much, too little or just the right amount of time on any given section. In the process of course, you’ll be absorbing the essence of the material along with the detail, and that’s the beginning of being able to deliver a more commanding performance.
A lot of clients will tell us there’s just no time to practice fully. Your public communications however are part and parcel of your reputation and your effectiveness. They simply have to be a priority, particularly for successful executives and that means devoting time to the effort.
So prepare for the your moment the old fashioned way. Practice, practice, practice.
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