September 18, 2008

I do and I understand

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."

(Attributed to Confucius, but who knows?)

My discus coach said this to me the other day in reference to the difficulty I was having getting my body to do 300 things at the same time, all to make that discus fly high and straight.

First, she explained to me the movement. Then she demonstrated the movement. But the only way I could get it right was to do it myself, over and over, until the contortions positions felt normal and comfortable.

You might think that, by reading about public speaking, attending a presentation or training, or watching other speakers, you'll gain all the skills you need. But unless you get up in front of people and do it, over and over, you are only going to make a minimal amount of progress.

Like muscle memory, where your body memorizes motor skills such as walking, writing, eating with a fork, typing on a keyboard, or swinging a baseball bat, your brain and your body will also memorize what feels "right" when you're in front of an audience.

The more you practice, the better you're able to ground yourself, manage anxiety, read the audience, move and gesture comfortably, handle tough questions, deal with unexpected circumstances, and control your timing and pacing -- all without thinking.

So get out there, get started, find ways to get public speaking practice. Do -- and you'll understand.

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1 comments. Please add yours! :

Matthew Cornell said...

Study Alexander Technique. It's all about how to learn something bodily, and how to un-learn dis-organized movement. Very deep. Can't just tell someone how to do it, yep.

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