I don’t have time to prepare and practice my presentation!
Have you ever felt that way? I have.
That is, I used to until I learned and practiced some tips on preparing a speech.
Here are five powerful practices that have helped me:
1. Use the “Power of Attraction.” As soon as you settle on a topic or theme, you will begin to notice useful bits and snippets of information flowing to you. It’s sort of like when you drive a new red car off the sales lot for the first time. Suddenly, it seems that *everyone* has a red car! Why? Because a part of your brain, the amygdala, and other parts of your neuroanatomy are activated and you are particularly alert, even if such attention is subconscious.
Now, the key is to watch for this supportive material–memories, news stories, conversations, reading, the list is endless–that suddenly seems to be everywhere. Spot it and capture it.
2. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Really. Get your speech down to three main points. Then decide which *one* point you want your audience to remember after your speech. You are after the point that audience members will Tweet about, post to Facebook, or mention to a friend, colleague, or family member.
Now, isn’t that easier already? Add your beginning, to grab attention and promise value, and your conclusion, to drive home your message and–voila–a speech is born!
3. Matter is mostly empty space, and often, time is mostly empty thought. Practice grabbing time to compose a line, develop a point, or imagine your presentation. Do not write anything down. Do this exercise in your head. Why? Because your head is with you at all times, even if your thoughts are somewhere else. And time *never* leaves, so grab it while your walking out to your car in the parking lot, walking down the hallway at work, running on the treadmill, or doing any of the thousands of ordinary things you do every day.
You will suddenly discover an amazing amount of otherwise unused or under-used time!
4. Imagine. Just as authors Erin Macy and Tiffany Wilding-White encourage their readers to “golf with your eyes closed,” I encourage you to practice your presentation in your imagination. And when you do, make your imagination as vivid and detailed as possible! Use every sense and strong emotion: see yourself and your audience, feel your voice and the poser of your points, hear the applause and the thump on the lectern as you make a point, smell and taste, and feel yourself commanding the stage. Do this for short snippets, not the entire speech. Then string them together.
5. Memorize. Ok, maybe not “memorize,” but I’d like you get *very familiar* with your opening and closing. Why? You want to start and end strong, with no hesitation or doubt. Give a little extra attention to these parts of your speech, enough so that you don’t’ have to worry about them at all, and don’t worry about getting them word perfect. In fact, don’t even try. You do not need to say the beginning and ending *exactly* the same every time. This just introduces an unnecessary trap. Use steps 1-4, above, to help you get your opening and closing well ingrained into your very being.
I said that there were five key points, but here’s a bonus that is very powerful: Deliver your speech in the moment.
What does that mean? Trust your preparation, but no amount of preparation is sufficient because the moment of your speech will have unique and unanticipated characteristics. That’s OK. Simply adjust as necessary and bring your entire being to your performance.
Remind yourself that you are prepared and then fill the moment with your speech delivered by your whole, well-prepared self.