Don’t Practice in the Mirror
The top two ways most people prepare for speeches:
– practicing in their heads (maybe during a commute to work)
– practicing in the mirror
Newsflash: you’re better off not practicing.
Do you know any professional athletes who prepare for big games by “thinking about it” in their heads? I’m not talking about visualization – that’s a great habit. I recommend positive visualization to everyone. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m asking if you know any athletes who skip practice, skip training, skip the gym, and just show up at a major game hoping for the best. I can answer the question for you: you don’t.
Do you know any musicians who prepare for concerts by thinking of the song in their head? Or maybe singing it in the mirror once?
How about actors who show up for opening night never having gone to a single rehearsal?
NOOOOO! YOU DON’T! I PROMISE.
That’s because it doesn’t happen. Successful athletes, musicians, and actors all go to practices, where professionals actually coach them and help them prepare.
Did you know that even A-list actors have coaches who train them ahead of every movie they do? It’s true!
Why do you think giving a speech is different? If you’re really going to go out there and speak in front of between 10 and 1000 (or more) people, why do it if you’re not going to put your best foot forward? Send an email including the content of your speech instead. Please don’t think for a second that you can shine in person without putting in the proper preparation. And that prep involves rehearsing OUT LOUD with a trained outside eye watching you – not a mirror.
Plenty of people tool around at sports, music and the arts. If you want to tool around at public speaking, be my guest. But if you want to be a pro, and take your career to the next level, or really impress a crowd at a wedding, or shine on the witness stand, hire a coach. It doesn’t have to be me. But find someone. True pro’s always hire outside eyes.
And for god’s sake: use your mirror for its true purpose: to notice that stray hair growing out of your cheek. When did that get there!?