In preparation, Presentation Skills, Public Speaking, Toastmasters, Winston Churchill

If you ask a real estate agent for a keyword for success, he will say “location, location, location !”

Brian Tracy’s mantra, as a speaker/presenter is “preparation, preparation,preparation !”After reaching a certain level of proficiency, speakers tend to take their audience for granted and this is bound to reflect in their delivery. Ironically, as a wag put it, the more prepared you are, the more spontaneous you appear.

Recently, I read excerpts from a book ” When I was Winston Churchill’s secretary” by Phyllis Moir. She recounts in graphic detail, the extent to which the great orator went to polish his speech.

” I can see him now, pacing slowly up and down the room, his hands clasped behind his back,his shoulders hunched,his head sunk forward in deep thought slowly and haltingly dictating the beginning of a speech or an article. I wait, my pencil poised in mid air, as he whispers phrases to himself, carefully weighing each word and striving to make his thoughts balance. Nothing may be put down until it has been tested aloud and found satisfactory. A happy choice brings a glint of triumph to his eye: a poor one is instantly discarded. He will continue the search until every detail of sound,rhythm and harmony- is to his liking. Sometimes there are long halts, during which he patiently sounds out a phrase, a dozen times, this way and that, making the cigar in his hand serve as a baton to punctuate the rhythm of his words”.

A riveting read ! So much effort goes into an” effortless speech !”. Toastmasters who tend to go to their mentors just a day before their scheduled project speech and insist that they be cleared to speak the next day, surely have a lot to learn from Winston Churchill’s phenomenal attention to details and painstaking preparation.

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  • Terry

    Thanks for the pertinent post Chendil.

    Practice truly does make perfect.

    I had a baseball coach in high school who said, “You play the way that you practice.” Naturally, practicing public speaking will help. What most people forget though is that it is equally important to practice non-verbal delivery skills as well. It is important to do so as practicing your non-verbal skills will help cement them in your muscle memory. If you do not practice that way, you are less likely to meet with success.

    Another thing I would suggest is that you don’t stop yourself in your practice sessions. What would you do if you made a mistake or misspoke? Practice it like you would in front of an audience. Then you’ll be more adept at reacting and thinking on your feet.

    There is no substitute for practicing your presentation on your feet before you deliver it. Mark Twain said it best, “It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”

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