Practice with Distractions

You have your speech all worked out and now it is time to practice. At this point, most speakers will find a quiet room, close the door, wait until the garbage truck passes or the neighbors’ dog stops barking and then begin. A peaceful sanctuary with barely a breeze to distract you.

Then the day arrives to give this perfect speech and immediately the oasis of calm vanishes: waiters bang plates, people cough and whisper, doors open and close, phones buzz and people rush in late or walk out to bathrooms. This is not how you practiced!

Tip: from your very first run-through, practice with some noise in the background. Stand in your family room and let life carry on around you. Set the TV to a low volume or put on some light music, don’t stop when the kids run in to grab a book, and let the dog chew its bone. Later, in your practice cycle, when you get to the point where you have a “tame” audience (partner, spouse, offspring, friend) ask them to not gaze at you with rapt attention, but to fumble in a handbag, blow their nose, check their phone, etc. Trust me, it will make your final performance so much easier!

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