Walking the talk

Before giving a speech, I rehearse by walking and repeating the words in my head.

I’ve found it useful for the following reasons:

- I hate to rehearse in front of people. I’d rather not rehearse than rehearse in front of people. Yet, not rehearsing at all is taking a big risk. Rehearsing in my head doesn’t provide me with external feedback, but it does allow me to be more comfortable with what I’m going to say.

- When I’m walking, I don’t have slides in front of me. I can’t look at them to figure out what I should say next. It forces me to build a structure that flows naturally. Each element should spontaneously lead to the next one. Awkward transitions become very obvious by using this technique.

- Every time I rehearse, the words that come out are not exactly the same. They are saying the same thing, roughly, but I’m not repeating a text I’ve been learning by heart. I’m focused on the ideas I’m trying to share, not on the precise words I should use. This means that, on stage, I’m improvising a bit, but within a succession of very clear frames.

- Regularly, as I’m repeating, I’m going to skip a point I wanted to make, without realizing it. I will discover it later, as I come back to the supporting deck of slides I have prepared. When that happens, it usually means that this point I want to make is not a natural part of the story. The story holds without it. In those cases, I have two options: abandoning that point, or rearranging the story so that it becomes a key part of it.

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