“How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?”

16 Jan

ImageYou’ve heard the old joke.  A tourist walks up to a man in Times Square and asks “Excuse me, but how do you get to Carnegie Hall?”  The man replies, “It’s simple.  Practice, practice, practice.”

This may not have been the answer the lost traveler sought but that doesn’t make it untrue.  In fact, practice (particularly as it applies to business presentations) is the single best thing you can do to ensure your message comes across accurately.   Practice has proven to reduce one’s own anxiety, enhance confidence and produce a superior product for your audience.

Don’t have time to practice?  Hogwash.   Any presentation worth giving is a presentation worth practicing.    Clearly, an unrehearsed, stumbling, bumbling, stuttering presentation can be damaging to your message and your credibility.  If you didn’t take the time to rehearse and perfect your message, how whole-heartedly could you possibly stand behind it?

Consider the following tactics to help better prepare for your next presentation.

1)   “Your Mirror is Your Friend.”   We know.  It can be painful.  But watching one’s self in the mirror for the duration of a practice presentation can teach you a lot about your physical presence.

2)   “Do I Really Sound Like That?”   Yup.  That Mickey Mouse voice on the audio recording is yours.  Ignore the tone and focus on the words.  Are you speaking too quickly?  How many “umm”s or “ahhh”s do you count?

3)   “You May Be Wondering Why I Gathered You All Here…”  Use your home audience.  Your spouse, your parents, even your kids can be a valuable practice resource.  Simply having others’ eyes on you while you speak helps you better prepare for the real thing.

Just a few simple steps can mean the difference between a successful presentation and a disastrous one.   So, give your audience credit.  If you walk in unrehearsed, they’ll know it.   It’s hard to focus on your words (no matter how brilliant) when they’re accompanied by a nervous twitch, a lopsided tie or a flurry of disorganized papers.  Conversely, if you walk in confident, self-assured and well prepared, they’ll listen.  They’ll see that you stand behind your message and cared enough to deliver it properly.

“If you don’t practice, you don’t deserve to win.”

Andre Agassi, 8-time Grand Slam-Winning Tennis Champion

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