Public speaking is a skill that needs to be developed. No one is born a great presenter. While some are more inclined to it than others, excellent presentation skills come from exerting constant effort. Just like musicians and athletes, there’s no shortcut to improving your presentation skills. You need to put in hard work. Luckily, Coursera co-founder and Stanford University professor Andrew Ng recently wrote about a method that could help you out. Ng calls the process Deliberate Practice.
Athletes improved their skills in this way. A gymnast, for example, would master an entire routine by focusing on individual parts first. As Ng had put it, “[it’s] hard work—you focus in every attempt, try to figure out what you’re doing wrong, and tweak your performance to make it better.”
Follow these three steps to improve your presentation skills with deliberate practice:
Step One: Select a 60-second portion from your presentation
Review a presentation you made recently and select a 60-second portion. Choose a portion where you might have stuttered or failed to expound your points perfectly.
Step Two: Record yourself
Record yourself echoing the 60-second portion you chose. You don’t have to set up a fancy camera to do it. You can just use a webcam or a phone camera set up in a way that helps you see and hear much of yourself.
Step Three: Watch your recording and take notes
Watch the recording of your 60-second presentation and take note of the parts you’d like to change. Note how you say certain words and move in certain parts. If it looks awkward in camera, think of how you can improve it.
Step Four: Adjust according to your observations
Once you’ve reviewed the notes you made, you can repeat the presentation with your own feedback in mind. Record the whole thing again.
Step Five: Repeat cycle until you’re satisfied
Keep recording and taking note of your 60-second presentation until you’re satisfied with your performance. Try adjusting your presentation for 8 to 10 times. The whole process might go faster if you have someone else with you who can also give you feedback.
Like a concert pianist or an Olympic gymnast, you should use deliberate practice to improve your presentation skills. Public speaking and presentations are crucial in the corporate world. It plays a significant role in sales, marketing, investment, and decision-making. In order to ensure that your presentations meet success, you have to make sure that you’re constantly doing better than the last time.
And while Ng’s method sounds like it would be a bit time consuming, it’s actually pretty convenient for those with 9 to 5 schedules. All it takes is thirty minutes.
Ng, Andrew. “Learn to Speak or Teach Better in 30 Minutes.” LinkedIn. March 20, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2014.