If you are going to talk to a group, you need to rehearse your speech many times

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

This is advice that I’ve always followed. It’s why I’m very good at talking to large groups. Interesting:

I hope I’ve convinced you at this point that it’s not about the slides, it’s about the words you speak. My number one piece of advice to people doing presentations is “Write a script.” Know exactly what you’re going to say before you start. Improvisation is insanely hard. People spend their whole lives studying the art of improvisation, and even then usually only improvise within a strict set of rules (e.g. jazz, improv comedy).

Come up with a list of the best orators you can think of. Know why they’re so good? Because they knew what they are going to say in advance, and could focus on the million tiny details beyond the text. Lawrence Olivier: had a script. Barack Obama: had a script. Edward R. Murrow: had a script. You’re not better than they are, so why do you think you can just wing it?

I don’t have the discipline to memorize my script word for word and present without notes like Malcolm Gladwell, but I do write a script. Each of my slides has the relevant chunk of my script as the speaker’s notes so I always have my script in front of me. I can give a talk dozens of times and 99% of what I say will fall out of my mouth with exactly the same phrasing, emphasis and intonation each time.

Writing a script allows you to think clearly about what you want to say well in advance of your talk, so slave over on your text. Polish it until it shines like a mirror. Take, for example, Lincoln’s Second Inaugural and The Gettysburg Address. What I love about these is that they are so short. The text is so distilled that it borders on poetry. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the ideas are so grand: war, peace, God, honor, justice, humility. If your text is anywhere near so precise or beautiful, you will have achieved a great deal.

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