2-Minute Tip: Restrict Your Practice Time
Two of the biggest sins of public speakers are going overtime and rambling. Both disrespect the audience, When you go 5 minutes over, you’re not just taking 5 minutes. You’re taking 5 minutes from everyone in the room. If there are 20 people in the room, you’ve actually taken 100 minutes in total.
To address both these issues, restrict your rehearsal time. That doesn’t mean rehearse less. It means that if you have 45 minutes for a talk, practice as though you have only 38-40 minutes. In all likelihood, the audience will take up that extra time reacting to you and asking questions.
If you ramble when you tell a story, time how long that story takes. If it’s three minutes, set a practice goal to get it down to 2:45. Practice until you get there, and then set a new goal of 2:30. When you get there, go for 2:15. Then 2:00. It may take you a lot of practice to get there, but by the time you do, you’ll have shaved not just a minute, but 1/3 of the rambling story. You likely cut the fluff and now have a tighter, more compelling narrative to share.
Post Tip Discussion
I’m a big fan of process.
- When you have a process, you set yourself up for success.
- A process also helps with the anxiety around public speaking. Because it gives you an element that you can control.
- A process can save time in prep because once you have a process in place you don’t have to start from scratch each time. That time you save can be better spent on practicing and refining your content.
- A process is also teachable making it easier to work with other folks when necessary.
In this episode I talk about my content development process. I talk about multiple ways I generate ideas, how I develop them on paper, and then refine them in OneNote, and how that impacts the editing process.
I also reference several earlier episodes:
- Episode 024 — Take More Pictures and the Story of my Hiatus
- Episode 020 — Practice without Slides and Deal with Writer’s Block
- Episode 047 — Keep Tissues Handy and Lessons from Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Episode 029 — Use a Lavalier and Learn from Star Trek: Discovery
- Episode 012 — Repeat the Question and What I Saw on a Cruise
For standard episodes, I:
- Generate ideas/topics.
- I try to build a big list.
- I sometimes start with the theme.
- I let it run as a background process in my brain.
- I pick a topic and start outlining it on paper.
- I type it up in OneNote.
- I edit and revise in OneNote.
- I record.
- I edit the audio and cut more.
For book commentary, I:
- Read the book and take picture of key passages as I go.
- My phone uploads them to OneDrive
- I add those pictures to OneNote.
- I let OneNote convert them to text.
- I pick the 10-12 best/most interesting ones.
- I script or outline commentary on those.
- I assemble the rest of the episode and record.
- I edit the audio and cut more.
I am launching a new podcast on February 16, 2018, at 8:00 AM Pacific called Strokecast. In it I, a Generation X stroke survivor, explore rehab, recovery, the frontiers of neuroscience, and one-handed banana peeling. Look for it at Strokecast.com on February 16.
Call To Action
- Tell us about your process for building a talk in the comments below.
- Next time you practice, try restricting your time.
- Beginning February 16, 2018, check out Strokecast.com
- Don’t get best…get better.