I’ve always been an advocate of recording your speeches and presentations.  Regardless of whether you use audio or video, the opportunity to review your work is critical.  That point was really driven home to me last night.

On Tuesday, I gave my club contest speech for the Toastmasters International Speech Contest.  I was fortunate to finish in first place as I had good competition.  For the first effort, I rated it a “B”.  I’d made a few mistakes but overall I was pleased.  Until I watched the video…

In reviewing it, I was horrified to see that I missed a KEY TRANSITION between stories!  Three critical sentences that tied my message together at the mid-point of my speech.  In fact, looking back I wondered at the time why I seemed to be ahead of my pace.  Now I know!  I guarantee that section will never be missed again.

I would have never known this had I not recorded myself.  My wife, who has the burden of being at all my practice sessions, didn’t even pick up on it.  The chance to repeat that mistake was very real.  Now, it won’t be.

So what did I learn from this?

  1. I wasn’t as well prepared in my memorization as I should have been.  I now recall times I had missed this section before in my practices.  It carried over into the “real” speech.
  2. The addition of the missed lines will add time to my speech. In a contest, you can go over time and be disqualified…I need to be more alert at the next level.
  3. Learn from every speech.  Even though I’m disappointed that I didn’t “nail” it; I received a valuable wake-up call that will make me better the next time around.

If you learn only one thing from this article, I hope it is this…

Always take the time to record yourself when giving a speech or business presentation.  It’s like reviewing a game film for a basketball or football coach.  The video (or audio) never lies.  Use it to improve your skills.


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