Will you practice your speech or presentation standing up and out loud or go to another meeting to talk about sales, technology or innovation? About 75% of you will pick the meeting over the practice. This is what behavioral researchers call "hyperbolic discounting" or, for us mortals, preferring immediate rewards over long-term gains. You expect an immediate result from the meeting, while if you spend that time practicing, you'll have to wait until you give the speech to find out if the audience likes it.
A client recenly told me with awe and amazement in his voice that practicing his speech ten times, out loud and standing up, made a huge difference in how he delivered it to his audience. His typical protocol was to read the slides over a couple of times, make a few notes, and then get up and speak. The ten practices (following just a couple of hours of working with me on the slide content and speaking notes) allowed the speech to flow from within. He felt it and the audience responded to it with applause, laughter in the appropriate places, and many congratulations. He accepted the delayed gratification and received abundant reward in return.
1-Make appointments on your calendar for your practices. You won't practice if you hope to squeeze them in during your "free time." No one has free time these days or if you have an opening someone will be sure to request your presence at a meeting or teleconference.
2-Stand up and speak out loud. Your brain registers your oral content differently from the way it registers when you're just thinking it through. You hear your words, the connection between ideas becomes clear and glitches or difficult thoughts become apparent and you can fix them.
3-If you need an immediate reward in order to make the time for practices, give yourself one in the form of a coffee break, a walk, a call to a friend or a creative conversation.
No one takes practicing seriously before they do it the first time. It is hard to imagine an outcome you've never experienced before. So you have to take the risk the first time that practicing will make a difference. After the first speech is received better than any you've ever given before, you'll have a much easier time practicing the next speech or presentation.
Now that you're aware of 'hyperbolic discounting' or the inclination to get immediate rewards instead of delayed rewards, you can overrule your brain! Practice, practice, practice--and reap the rewards from an appreciative audience.