If ever you were to flag down a cabbie in New York City to ask, “how do you get to Carnegie Hall,” the answer you will most likely receive is practice, practice, practice. And your fare will suddenly double while your cabbie takes the scenic route. However, if you ask Lance Miller, the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, how do you practice? He will tell you, “You practice precisely as you deliver your speech on the platform.” The word practice can be a verb or a noun. When used as a verb, you perform an activity or exercise. That skill performed repeatedly or regularly improves or maintains your proficiency. The nouns; doctors and lawyers have practices. While they may never become perfect, they are permanent.
Your approach to practice can determine your success or failure when you are on the platform. Rehearsing your speech in the shower, while driving or lying in bed is not exactly practicing, You are sequencing. You are arranging your thoughts in a particular order, which is useful; however, it is a far cry from practicing. Sequencing places your presentation in your head. When your speech is in your head, it is not ready for delivery. You have to move it from your head to your heart. To avoid that extra step, practice as if you are speaking to an audience. When you practice as you will deliver your presentation, you develop muscle memory, which requires your total body involvement.
Lance also recommends that you should avoid practicing in front of mirrors. The speaker focuses on themselves when they should be focusing on their audience. Speaking to cameras is also a challenge most speakers face when delivering an address over zoom. Recording yourself and analyzing your presentation is far more effective than practicing in front of mirrors. Mirrors can also be a distraction to the speaker while practicing. Your focus will be on yourself and not your audience when you are on the platform. What and how you practice becomes permanent.
Anyone who has attained greatness in their chosen field will tell you it took many hours, days, and years of practice. They also had specific workout routines. They also had different exercises for different days. Before they begin to practice, they knew what to would be focusing on during each practice session. They knew how many times they will practice particular routines. They practice their speech uninterrupted from start to finish. Also, they make sure they practice delivering their presentation to an audience. Adopt those practices. If you don’t have an audience, create one. Chairs, trees, dolls, whatever that will not talk back, works well. Feedback will come in your testing phase. Practice, Practice, Practice but do it right and the day will come when you too will be on your way to the Carnegie Hall of public speaking.