When you practice your material for your speech or presentation, do you record yourself by means of a camcorder? If not, then you should definitely consider this important step in the process of preparing for your delivery. Camcorders today are not that expensive. Look at the purchase of this piece of equipment as an investment in your future if you are serious about a career in public speaking, are required to speak for your job, or just want to hone your presentation skills.
To be able to see and hear yourself is one of the best tools I’ve employed when teaching voice and presentation skills. Feedback from a mentor, a coach, a spouse, or a friend is not the same as seeing yourself in action, even if it is just in practice. You will learn so much about yourself. You may have a ‘tic’ that you are unaware of. Perhaps you habitually push your hair behind your ear or stand with your hands in your pockets, playing with your keys or your change. (A good tip? Always empty your pockets before presenting.)
Admittedly, public speaking is subjective; and, while there are no hard and fast rules, there are steps you can take to ensure success when you next stand at the lectern and address an audience.
If you will video-record yourself while practicing your material, you will be able to objectively watch yourself in action, looking for your strengths and weaknesses.
1. Are you making eye contact with your audience or are you staring straight ahead?
2. Do you speak with emotion or is your voice a monotone?
3. Do you speak too quickly?
4. Do you speak with enough volume or are you soft-spoken or possibly too loud?
5. Are you smiling at various times or is your face a blank?
6. Do you pause? Maybe not enough or too much?
7. Is your presentation filled with ums and ahs?
8. Does your voice sound wimpy, high-pitched, nasal or whiny?
9. Do you look confident?
10. Is your presentation interesting; i.e., are you drawn to what you are saying?
These are just some of the questions you should be asking yourself when you analyze what you hear and see.
Do not look for perfection in your analysis, because perfection is subjective. Instead, be honest with yourself and judge the good as well as the bad. Some of the problems you are encountering may require coaching or training, but it is quite possible to improve several of the negative aspects of your delivery on your own.
One of the most important characteristics of dynamic presentation skills is the ability to sound and look like you are having a conversation in your living room. Do you see that in your analysis?
While the value of recording yourself in practice is priceless, in my next article, I will be discussing the importance of video-recording your performance during your actual presentation because what happens on the stage is not always what happens off the stage!
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels offers private, corporate and group workshops in voice and presentation skills as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement. Visit Voice Dynamic and watch Nancy as she describes Your Least Developed Tool!