As a speaker coach and trainer, I can tell you that the one thing I always recommend is the same thing my trainees rarely do: Practice, and lots of it.
I don’t just recommend practice for your speech or presentation because it sounds good. I know there are seven secret advantages—some of the best advantages in public speaking—reserved for speakers who practice.
By practice, I don’t mean flipping through your slides an hour before the presentation. I mean run-throughs, full of stops and starts, until you’re able to deliver that talk as you envision it. Helpful observer friends and cameras optional, although they both can help the practice process. Whether you do it solo or with a team, practice will help you:
1. Look like you didn’t need practice: Call it the Great Irony of Public Speaking: The speaker who practices winds up looking relaxed, unruffled, at ease, and extemporaneous. The speaker who gets up to speak without preparation looks like, well, she isn’t prepared. The unprepared speaker is more likely to run overtime, stumble, forget, and look forced. You can only get that extemporaneous, casual look through practice—and it’s the biggest advantage of having practiced.