Don’t Become Someone’s Drinking Game: Prepare and Practice for Your Next Presentation
Ideally, professional speakers should be immune to the ahs, uhms, buts, ands, sos, and other poor speaking habits that can happen in front of an audience. Even seasoned professionals, such as journalists, sometimes fall into a comfort phrase that they use when searching for the next idea. The critical element of preparing for a speech or presentation is preparation and practice. Preparation is research, writing, and making sure that the information is organized in a logical and interesting manner. I recently attended a conference where most of the presenters were industry-specialists, not professional speakers. Most of them did well with the research aspect, and they worked hard on their organization and flow. None of them admitted to practicing their presentation out loud. The most difficult part of preparation is the practice. Out loud. Several times. It is only in the delivery of a presentation that we find the problem areas. Have you ever given a speech without practicing? Those moments that don’t flow well are due to lack of practice. Lack of practice is also when the audience hears your bridge or fillers words of ahs, sos, ands, and but uhms. In this segment of How I Met Your Mother, Ted’s students are fans of Robin’s morning news show, but not for the reasons she wants to believe. It is not her personality, her content or her reporting that makes students tune in. It is her mistakes. Robin’s interviews are the basis of a college student drinking game. Every time she says “but, uhm” Ted’s students raise their glasses. When confronted, Robin claims she never says “but uhm” during her TV interviews. It is not until she pays attention to just that one phrase on own show that she realizes how often the “but uhm” creeps in to her conversation, and she is able to control it. When we practice, we don’t need filler words. We know our speech well, and we are ready with each section. We can catch our problems areas or “filler words” and eliminate them. Practicing also makes us more confident to take questions and not lose our place. To really improve a presentation, try video taping your practice session with a flip camera and playing it back. I tried this recently and found I say “so” more than I thought. In my latest speech, I found that being aware of my filler word allowed me to consciously eliminate it. Prepare and practice for professional presentations. You don’t want to unintentionally become someone’s drinking game at your next event.