How to Practice Stretching Your Limits

There are different levels of practice. “Deliberate practice” is practicing in a way that stretches your limits as much as possible.

This is not what most of us do when we practice for an upcoming presentation. We focus on our slides. We practice to get the words right, to get the charts in order, to time ourselves.

Deliberate practice stretches you to have cognitive access to the information while making a meaningful connection with listeners–and being who you really are.

Practice-and-Think

Six suggestions to help you with deliberate practice

  • Stop worrying about getting all the words right. That worry keeps you locked inside your head and disconnected from the audience.
  • Talk through each of your focus areas with a teammate. Trust yourself to use your own knowledge to speak to the information, rather than from the information.
  • Use stories, illustrations and metaphors to release yourself into a natural state. Use transitions such as: What’s so interesting about this is …The real story behind these numbers is … We’re seeing a trend here … .
  • Record yourself on audio via your smartphone. You’ll hear the redundancies, bland business-speak, and the places you don’t sound like yourself.
  • When you’re happy with the audio, videotape yourself, and more will be revealed, such as formal or closed body language that doesn’t match the message. Practice to loosen up.
  • Find a way to tap into your own interests, passion, and what matters to you about the topic. Let that energy flow out and connect with listeners.

Listeners are not influenced by slides

Practice-Balance

Bring your conversational, active voice to presentations, not your bullet points. After all, listeners are not influenced by slides. They are influenced by people who are genuinely and completely present to them.

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Avatar for Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur.com, CEO.com, and Fast Company.