Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect!

Here are some additional comments from an ongoing dialogue with a reader about memorizing a presentation. Practice doesn’t really make Perfect, it only makes Permanent. Only Perfect Practice makes Perfect.

Last time, I ranted about why presenters shouldn’t try to memorize their presentations. They should learn them through practice and refinement of message content and structure. More thoughts for your consideration:

  1. Practice your presentation enough to really know what you want to say and how. The audience doesn’t know what you could have or should have said. They only know what they hear you say.
  2. Create a detailed full sentence content outline capturing your clear, concise audience-centric structure and content. Practice delivering from that outline.
  3. If you practice it enough, you’ll hit 90% of the content the same way each time – and that should be good enough to accomplish your objectives and those of your audience. But, practice it out loud, standing up, using gestures and imagining a room full of people so you can practice your eye contact.
  4. If you have the time, interest and motivation, audio tape your practice from that outline, but don’t read it – deliver it. You can self-critique that recording. You can also transcribe it – or, hopefully, have someone else transcribe it – to fine-tune your word tracks, flow and phrasing.
  5. At some point, shift to a very brief speaking outline with only key words, facts or stats.
  6. A technique I’ve found helpful when delivering very important presentations or newer content – I record myself delivering it as close to actual as possible – a ‘dress rehearsal’. Then, I listen to ‘me doing me’ several times to reinforce my retention of content and flow. That can be especially helpful when traveling to the venue.

So, while Practice only makes Permanent and only Perfect Practice makes Perfect, some of these suggestions will help you Practice more Perfectly.