But improving the way you present often means changing behaviors, or overcoming bad habits. And that’s never easy.
Why? Because although practice can help you get refine a skill or hone an existing behavior, it’s not an effective way to create new behaviors. After all, you may need to change something you don’t even realize you’re doing!
Practicing in front of others can be helpful, but not as much as you might think. Say you repeatedly do something – maybe talk too fast, or move around too much. If your practice audience waits until you’ve finished your presentation to give you feedback, it’s unlikely you’ll have it fixed the next time you present. That’s just human nature.
Let’s say you are fortunate to have colleagues who will actually do what a good coach would do, and interrupt you at the moment you make the mistake. Good for you, as that is the most effective way to change behavior. But how likely are they to interrupt you every time you make the mistake? You already know the answer: not very. You only have to consider how you would act If the roles were reversed to realize how uncomfortable you’d be constantly interrupting someone practicing.
And what if the audience includes those from a culture where interrupting is considered rude whether it’s practice or not?
It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish–And Everywhere in Between.
Many people start their presentation and a strong volume and can be easily heard, but soon fade away, and have to be told to “speak up”. Others may need to enunciate, add interest and variation, or adjust their body position and gestures,
And when it comes to preparing for an important presentation, you know the drill. First, there is the rough run through with a few close colleagues. Next, a more extensive practice session. Finally a dry-run. And each time you hope you'll receive the feedback that could improve your performance.
Oh, you'll get feedback all right. And it may even be exactly what you need to hear. But who is going to interrupt you when it happens not likely. And if they do, still do it maybe once or twice. Alas, by the time you give your next presentation it won't be any different than the last.
But presentation habits and behaviors are too hard to fix when the audience waits until you're finished 30 to 40 minutes later to give you feedback.
Recent developments in cognitive science and understanding habits behaviors have proven that best way to change a bad habit is to catch it in the act.
But who amongst your practice audience is prepared to interrupt you? Let alone interrupt you each time you make the same mistake?
And what if some of your practice audience attendees or from cultures or interrupting the speaker – even during a practice session – is strictly frowned upon?