One of the best tools for improving your presentation skills is to video-record yourself as a means of practice. While you may think this is a bit extreme, it really isn’t: you will learn so much by watching yourself on video. A lot of people are recorded during their presentation, but imagine the advantage if you record yourself beforehand so that you can correct your mistakes as well as the ‘tics’, the ums, ahs & uhs, and any other mannerisms you may not like.
The first step, however, is to practice your material out loud. I tell this to my clients and my students over and over; and still, I have people that don’t practice their material. My question is why?
If you were to give a piano recital, you would practice; if you were to enter a golf tournament, you would practice; if you were to take a driver’s test, you would practice. What makes you think you can give a presentation or deliver a speech without practicing? Going over it in your mind is not practice…saying it OUT LOUD is!
After practicing your material, do it again with your camcorder on. [As an aid for my clients, I place a huge stuffed gorilla on the sofa and 'Goofy' on an adjacent chair so that my presenters feel like they are talking to an audience. Dolls and mannequins will also work.] Go through your entire presentation and then play it back and study it. Decide what you like and what you don’t like.
Then ask yourself an important question. Overall, did you enjoy your presentation? Forget the mistakes, just look at the entire piece and judge it in its entirety. Mistakes are not important at this particular time. Was your delivery good? Did you convey what you wanted to say in an entertaining, enjoyable, interesting manner? Feeling good about your presentation skills is an important acknowledgement because if you enjoyed it, so too will your audience.
If, on the other hand, you didn’t like it, ask yourself why.
Did you acknowledge your ‘audience’ or were your eyes glued to your notes or your script? Did you show any emotion in speaking or was your face frozen in fear? Did you move during your delivery or were you standing perfectly still? Did you read to your audience or were you able to sound conversational? (Remember: this is not a reading at the library or Barnes & Noble!) Were there a lot of ums and ahs or was your speech smooth flowing?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself about your style of delivery; but, more importantly, ask yourself if you are able to correct these faults on your own or could use some training.
Just as all musicians and athletes have had training so too should those involved in public speaking. Most people are not born natural speakers; it takes practice; it takes constructive criticism; and, it all begins by recording yourself on a camcorder first.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Voice DynamicYour Least Developed Tool! and watch Nancy as she describes