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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

Preparing Your Mind for Stage Mastery

Don’t Worry About Being Perfect

For my entire life, I’ve been a musician. I’ve played in bands since I was very young and have traveled the country performing live on stage and recording in studios. My best friend, Dave, was always with me in these bands. We’ve always played music together.

In the late 1980s, our band broke up, so Dave and I decided we were going to do things differently. We decided we weren’t going to find another drummer and bass player. Instead, we were going to enter the age of electronic music.

We went out and purchased all the latest electronic equipment and hibernated for a year in the basement. We learned and programmed the drums, the bass and the background orchestration so he and I could be the only ones on the stage. With Dave at his keyboard, and me playing my guitar, we could present a full band sound with only two guys.

After a year of programming and rehearsing, we took to the stage and for the next ten years we performed as a duo. So, what does all of this have to do with public speaking? Read on, and you’ll see.

As we played, we could always feel a difference between the music from the computer and the music that used to come from our live band. The difference was that the music coming from the computer was perfect. It was flawlessly timed and it was perfectly in sync, with any dynamics that existed being deliberately programmed and based on instruction, not on emotion. There was no human appeal to the music that came from the computer.

Fortunately, as Dave and I performed, we were able to add the human touch for the audience, by being imperfect. But the background music, though authentic in sound, was mechanical in feel, because it was perfect.

As a speaker, perfection could give your speech a mechanical feel in the eyes of your audience. Certainly, too may “um”s, or “uh”s and other such “word whiskers” will dilute the impact of your talk. A good thing to remember is, unless you’re competing in a formal speech competition, imperfections are not only tolerated by your audience, they’re expected and welcomed because they make you more human.

Be aware of excessive distractions in your delivery, but there’s also no need to stress over putting on a perfect performance. Let your talk flow naturally, and let your emphasis change as you reach your emotional connection to your message.

So, what’s the lesson? Enjoy yourself when you speak, without worrying about perfection. Just be human, and let the message guide you.

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