At some point or another, most of us have had to present to a group, whether that it’s a small group of 4 people or 250+ people in a large audience type setting. Even when it’s one of the smaller groups of people, there’s a lot of stress associated with speaking in front of people. Some of that is the social pressure of wanting to perform well and for your message to be well received. The other apart of it probably goes back to when you’re a little kid; there’s this nervousness a lot of people feel. Now if you’re somebody who is naturally able to work well in those situations and you don’t feel pressure in speaking in front of groups, you should count yourself very lucky. I think for most people there’s some tension that comes along with that. So as somebody who spends a lot of time talking in front of both large and smaller groups I’ve, over time, come up with some ways to deal with public speaking related stress and to improve performance.
One of the things that I’ve started doing recently is I’ve started to videotape things. It all started when I began videotaping some segments that I’ve done for interviews, little pieces to help explain certain aspects of our business or business products, or things for my blog. One of the things I’ve noticed through these videotapes is how easy it makes it to point out flaws in my delivery. So what I’ve started to do is incorporate this into my public speaking prep time.
I’m a Mac user so I take advantage of the capture tools that are readily available to Apple systems. I use those tools to pull in whatever I’m going to speak about and then I just play it back pretty quickly. This isn’t done with the idea of creating some tightly edited masterpiece but with the idea of being able to quickly get a sense of how things play out altogether. I think a lot of us have practiced what we’re going to say in the shower or in the mirror in your bathroom, but one of the problems I’ve always had with that is that you tend to focus on correcting things as you actually do it. One of the nice things about letting it go into a video recording tool on your computer is that you don’t have to focus on that. Instead you just focus on your actual delivery. Then when you get done, you play it back and you can see the areas where you maybe don’t have things thought through all the way, you stumbled a little bit, or you started to ad lib and you got lost or off message. Whatever the problem is, it just bubbles up to the surface.
I have found that if I do that two or three times, I can really identify all the little points in my talk where I get stuck. You can find where you need a statistic here or something else there to punch up the point that you’re trying to make. I think it’s a really great and easy way to get a lot more value out of the effort that you put in to prep for talks and other things. It’s really worth looking into if you’ve never done it before. Added bonus, it’s really easy from a technical standpoint. You have a lot of different choices on the Mac and I’m sure there’s plenty on the PC as well but for the purposes of this you can use iMovie on the Mac to capture the video, play it back, and check out the points where you’ve had issues. It’s worth a try and I’d love to hear if anyone else has taken the same route.