Speaking Tips: In Public Speaking Practice Makes Perfect
Yes, practice is essential if you want to become really good
Welcome to Speaking Tips: In Public Speaking Practice Makes Perfect.
Can you give professional quality presentations every time? You can if you want it enough. You can even get paid. It’s a matter of practice, practice, and practice making perfect and, Eureka! You’re a Pro.
When I joined Toastmasters in Auckland, New Zealand, the famous actor, Topol, was playing the lead in the film, Fiddler on the Roof. That was in 1972. In September 2005 Topol was still playing the same role, this time live on stage in Sydney, Australia. Thirty-three years had elapsed. I’m betting Topol knows every word of his Fiddler role backwards. Moreover the critics say he’s got even better with time. And why wouldn’t he?
"I heard that same speech twenty years ago"
Recently, a television compere, interviewing the famous professional speaker, Zig Ziglar, made the following observation: “Mister Ziglar. I heard you give that very same speech twenty years ago. Nothing’s changed!” Was it a coincidence that Zig Ziglar gave the same speech? No. Because he’s probably given that same speech three hundred times- and that would be a conservative estimate.
In Public Speaking Practice Makes Perfect
It isn’t unusual. That most famous of speeches, “Acres of Diamonds” was purportedly presented over three thousand times- yes, 3,000 times! An American university was founded on the fees gained from the audiences who listened to it.
Years ago, when I was a member of the National Speakers’ Association of Australia, an audience member asked the presenter - a renowned professional speaker- how much ‘prepared material’ he had. This question referred not to this particular presentation, but to how much material en-total the man had in his repertoire. His reply: “About five hours.”
Speaking Tips: Professionals often use the same material over and over again.
So there you have it. The secret’s out. Professionals often use the same presentations over and over and over. It is their stock in trade. No wonder they become smooth at delivering it.
Let us compare this to a Rostrum club, a Toastmaster club or speaking-school scenario. In such an environment, the student or club member is expected to front up for a meeting perhaps once a week, or even once a fortnight. to deliver a five-minute or maybe a ten-minute presentation. Chances are the would-be speaker would have put in many hours of preparation readying himself or herself for that one presentation. The same would apply to any succeeding speeches. The majority would be one offs. How, then, can they ever become as smoothly effective as that of the professional?
Professional quality presentations every time. Why? Because practice makes perfect
Around twelve months ago I was invited along to a Toastmasters’ annual convention. I was to deliver a thirty-minute workshop of storytelling. The main guest speaker was an Englishman who presented a really entertaining workshop which went for maybe an hour earlier that day. Plent of laughs. Plenty of audience involvement. It was good. Practice makes perfect , no doubt about that.
Someone asked him if he’d be back next year to give another workshop. His reply: “No, I don’t think so, I’ve used up all my material.”
“Used up all his material ! Here was a man who earned his living as a professional and he couldn’t run to more than one presentation! Incredible!
How much material have you got?
Back to Zig Ziglar and the professionals. I took note of that ‘five hours of prepared material’ way back. Since the mid 1980s I’ve been delivering presentations to many organisations outside of Toastmasters. An estimate of my frequently-repeated material? Six hours. Yes- that’s all. And in that time I’ve presented to over six hundred-and-fifty audiences and around 36,000 people. One speech - a story, actually, I’ve told probably 200 times.
So what happens here? You get asked back time after time to present to the same audiences...until you run out of material. No worries though. Because even if you’re their guest speaker twice in one year (which is unusual) it’ll still take you six or seven years to exhaust the lot. By then, you can turn around and start all over again. True. I’ve done it.
Speaking Tips: Expect to be asked to speak from 30 to 50 minutes
Of course, you won’t get away with 5-7, or even an 10-12 minute speeches with audiences outside of Rostrum or Toastmasters. They’ll want 30, or 40 and, often 50 minutes of your time at one go. Sometimes more. So where does that leave you? It means that you need to put together longer presentations. Perhaps a dozen or so of varying length. But you can do that.
Quality presentations every time ? Yes. In public speaking practice makes perfect so practice, practice, practice and - Eureka! You’re a Pro. Practice makes perfect.
More on the writer
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Tom Ware is a Master Storyteller. Known as 'The Prince of Storytellers, Tom has been entertaining audiences with stories for thirty years. Tom joined his fir...
- Tom Ware Public Speaking The Prince of Storytellers
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