AVOID DEVELOPING BAD HABITS DURING PRACTICE
by J.A. Gamache
Third place Champion at the 2001 Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking
When practicing a speech, don’t pause after you make a mistake. If you stop and start again, you might develop a reflex that will manifest itself on the day of your performance.
I’ll always remember one of my first English speech contests. As a native French speaker, I was inexperienced with the English language and was really nervous at the idea of mispronouncing words. Back then, my accent was so thick that I couldn’t always make myself understood.
During rehearsals, I would stop myself each time I mispronounced something and then would repeat the word, using the correct pronunciation. I improved a lot this way and was correcting my imperfections.
On the day of the contest, I continued the same pattern and would stop to repeat a word whenever I mispronounced it. It would have been better had I ignored these errors, but I couldn’t help myself because my habit of self-correction had turned into a conditioned reflex. As I stumbled repeatedly during my speech, I gave the judges the impression that I was ill prepared, which made me lose the contest.
I learned a great lesson from that defeat. When you prepare a speech, it’s better to practice as through you’re really facing an audience, for the following reasons:
1- YOU’LL AVOID DEVELOPING UNDESIRABLE REFLEXES.
You won’t instil bad habits in yourself, such as constantly correcting yourself when speaking in front of a group.
2- YOU’LL DEVELOP THE HABIT OF DEALING WITH CONTINGENCIES.
Here’s a partial list of contingencies you could encounter during rehearsals (and also on the day of your speech):
– Stammering or mispronouncing something
– Forgetting your text
– Inverting parts of your speech
– Mishandling a prop
– Experiencing computer problems
– Being distracted by an interruption
3- YOU’LL GAIN SELF-CONFIDENCE.
On the day of your presentation, you won’t be dreading any unpleasant surprises. You’ll know what to do because you’ve encountered them during rehearsals.
Practice your speech as if you were really in front of an audience, and you’ll avoid bad habits. You’ll also develop strategies to get yourself out of predicaments and you’ll be less stressed when faced with an unforeseen event.
©MMXII J.A. Gamache www.jagamache.com. All rights reserved.
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