Evil Queen: “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?”
Mirror: “Hmmm, well, your Highness, you’re lookin’ pretty good, but, your speech needs some work; you haven’t been focusing on your message.”
This might be slightly different than the original scene from ‘Snow White’ but it is a better lead-in to this message.
For many years, it was common advice for speakers to practice speeches while standing in front of a mirror. In the Dark Ages before video and audio recorders, this may have been good advice. But today, it is not.
When you are speaking into a mirror, where is your focus? On you – your physical appearance and your delivery. It’s difficult to give attention to your words and message when you’re concerned about how you look.
It is especially important early in the creation process to focus on your message. Developing your structure [Big Bang Opening, Foundational Concept, Supporting points, Transitions, and Conclusion] is the critical first-step to create a meaningful and memorable presentation.
Until your message is internalized, don’t spend time fretting over how you look when presenting it. Only when your speech is flowing smoothly from you should you worry about the delivery.
It is extremely difficult to evaluate yourself in-the-moment. When you’re looking into a mirror while talking, you won’t accurately hear the inflections in your voice, the length of your pauses, and the mood your voice conveys. More people are visual more than auditory learners. If this is you, the visual aspect of your delivery will trump the auditory and you’ll miss opportunities to improve the speech.
If the mirror is not a good tool, what can you use to measure your performance?
Audio and video recordings!
If you’re like most people, you may be thinking ‘I HATE the way I look/sound.’ I don’t want to record myself!’ If this is your thought process, I offer the words of my friend, World Champion speaker Darren LaCroix…
“You don’t like to watch yourself and listen to your own speech? That’s too bad. Guess what? We had to listen. So do you.”
All humor side, Darren’s point is important. Hearing and seeing your delivery is the fastest way to improve. There are many key points you’ll be able to evaluate, some of which are:
You’ll notice the words that are/aren’t working.
The areas where pauses are most effective.
And many more.
When you review audio or video, rather than evaluate yourself in a mirror, you’ll be more objective. You won’t be caught in-the-moment, when your energy and emotions are at their highest, but objectivity is not.
Some ideas [i.e. the Golden Rule] are timeless and should be followed. Others [like writing on stone tablets] belong in the past. Practicing a speech in front of a mirror is such an idea. It may have worked at one time, but with the advent of modern technology, you’ll be more effective in self-evaluation if you toss the mirror [carefully! don’t want those 7 years of bad luck] and break out the audio and video recorders.