Does Practice Make Perfect in Public Speaking?

Practice makes perfect.

Only when it comes to public speaking being perfect isn’t such a good idea. I saw a presentation recently by a gentleman who so impressed me with his descriptive language and vivid imagery. Every carefully crafted word was precisely selected and delivered.

It was obvious that the speaker had not only spent considerable time writing this presentation but that he had also spent a lot of time memorizing and rehearsing the presentation – exactly as it had been written.

This was all well and good until he hit a snag. He lost his place and froze. He struggled mightily to get back on track but couldn’t do it. The result was an uncomfortable silence that seemed to last forever.

The speaker was unable to recover because he had worked so hard to memorize every single syllable of the speech. So when he lost his place he felt the need to get back to that script that he had worked so hard to drum into his brain. That’s not always easy to do.

Now I’m all for practicing, but the result of practice should be that we become so familiar with our material that we can easily deliver a conversational talk. What this gentleman had done was create a script that he then memorized and because he was so wedded to the precise delivery of the exact words he had crafted, when he lost his place he had to work through a very long and uncomfortable silence to try and get back to that script.

But he couldn’t.

Rather than memorizing your presentation, internalize the information so that you can speak to it easily and naturally. And don’t feel the need to be perfect.

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