A pedestrian on 57th street in New York, sees a musician getting out of a cab and asks,” How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” Without pause, the artist replies wearily, ”Practice, Practice Practice”
Yes, friends in order to be a successful public speaker, you must practice.
When I first started my career as a motivational speaker, some 31 years ago, I took every invitation to speak to better my craft. Whether it was service clubs like Rotary, or Kiwanis or schools and churches, I embrace the opportunity to work on my craft. I can vividly recall creating my own ‘Motivational Speaking Tour” of the High Schools in the Bahamas and my confidence grew with each presentation at every stop on the tour. I remember speaking in Andros, one the Bahamas 700 Islands, to a government school, and the then principal Mr. Huntley Christie, contacted me at my office in Nassau, to say that he wanted me to come back to Andros and speak to a few more schools.
I said, wow, I must be making an impact and my presentations were well received. So good things can come out of your rehearsals. Remember to perform at your best because you are always on stage. In my business, if I don’t perform well, then I won’t get any repeat or new business. This is vitally important. I remember working a barter arrangement with the then Holiday Inn on the Seven Mile Beach Strip on Grand Cayman around 1994 and when I arrived to conduct my first speaking engagement for the staff, there were only 4 persons. Well, I did my thing as if it was a stadium full of people that I was speaking to.
At the end of my presentation the entire group of four said ‘ sir , you are simply amazing. You did your presentation to us as if you were speaking to thousands.” The next session the following day, the room was packed to capacity of 50 persons. The word had spread.
Malcolm Gladwell said “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.
I am a huge Temptations fan and have had the privilege of seeing them live in concert about 9 times. The last occasion was in Palmdale , California, at the Palmdale Amphitheater . My good friend Billy Bannister is the road manger for the group and he invited me into the dressing room before the Temptations took the stage . I spoke with the founder and leader, Otis Williams, and he said that even though we have been singing and performing for more than 50 years , we still rehearse regularly . You must practice so that you can bring you’re A-game every day for every speaking engagement .
Yul Brynner, was best known for his portrayal of King Mongkut of Siam in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical the King and I , for which he won two Tony awards and an Academy Award for the film version . He played the role 4,625 times on stage and every performance as top notch. That’s being prepared and very well rehearsed .
So I implore you to practice , practice, practice. Public speaking is one of the greatest fears on this earth and for you to master it , you need to practice your craft. Its not juts going to happen. You must put in the work. The top people in any field are those who devote the most hours to what researchers call ‘deliberate practice”. Its activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance .For example , Winston Churchill was one of the 20th century’s greatest orators, practiced his legendary speeches compulsively . Luciano Pavorotti allegedly said “ If I don’t practice for a day, I know it, If I don’t practice for two days , my wife knows it , If I don’t practice for three days, the world knows it.”
There is no glory in practice but without there is no glory.” Unknown
Football players in the National Football League , practice for days leading up to the next game on Sundays. The same thing applies to basketball players in the National Basketball Association. So friends, practice means every thing. Actors rehearse their lines so frequently that it becomes a part of them during their performances. I used to be a top high school triple jumper, holding the national record for junior boys in the Bahamas. People only saw my great jumping during the track meets but they did not know how much I practiced for months leading up to the meet.
To become a better public speaker, I strongly recommend the following :
3. Bring your high energy
4. Get involved with your audience
5. Choose a great ice breaker
Simon Biles said “Practice creates confidence ..confidence empowers you.”
It has been my experience that when I practice and prepare fully for my presentation , I become very confident . This confidence fires up the audience. Part of my practice, is to visualize my speech to the point of the audience giving me a standing ovation after its finished. That’s exactly what I get . You see in life you do not get what you think you deserve, you get what you expect. So expect great things as a result of your speech. Finally, Isaac Asimov said “Life is a practice. You are what you do each day.”