Competitions lead to winners and losers. The most focused and skilled people come out on top. And they have become focused and skilled because they practice, practice,practice.
How is speaking a competition? You, the speaker, are competing for a professional win--enhancing your reputation, elevating your status, getting a promotion, inspiring your teams to better results.
You're also competing against every other obligation or temptation your audience could pay attention to instead of you. Think about how often your mind, and perhaps your fingers, strays to the electronic device in your pocket. Everyone in your audience feels the same urge.
I've been thinking about the huge number of people I work with who tell me they hardly ever practice their speeches or presentations. They spend more time writing text and slides than they do learning their material and being able to deliver it well.
If you think this is fine, think about a sport or fitness routine you have become proficient at. How many swings have you taken at the golf ball? How many reps are in your muscles? You are a much better golfer or weight lifter now that you've practiced hundreds of times. The very same results will occur when you practice your speeches hundreds (okay, tens) of times.
Follow this rule of thumb: practice your speech or presentation full-out TEN times. Not 4 or 6 or 8 but TEN. If you think TEN times won't make much difference, you'll really be surprised when you experience the improvement. You cannot know how much better you will be until you've tried it.
Share your experience with practices and the benefits you enjoyed in the comment box.