Video Your Live Presentations and Become Your Own Best Critic

My last article dealt with video-recording yourself when you practice your presentation or speech. While I value the lessons learned by video-recording yourself in practicing, don’t stop with your rehearsals. The next step is to record your live presentation or speech. How you deliver in front of a live audience will be a bit different than your delivery in practice; and, both situations need to be studied.

By recording the actual presentation, you will be able to see yourself in action. Do you smile at times? Do you have enough volume? Were you heard? Were you making eye contact with your audience? Did you look natural and comfortable? Were you understandable? Did the pitch of your voice rise because of your nervousness?

Many of the questions I am asking here are not covered in my first article because recording yourself in a practice session will not produce nervousness – at least it shouldn’t! But my questions here deal with how you handle your nervousness. For example, the pitch of the speaking voice will only rise unnaturally because of nervousness. On the other hand, you may speak distinctly in your rehearsal but be considerably less intelligible in the live situation because you are subconsciously pulling back your volume.

Maybe you were speaking too quickly. Speed is one of the most interesting components of public speaking that can never be judged honestly until you hear yourself in a recording. You may speak at a good pace in normal conversation but increase your speed dramatically on stage because of excitement, nervousness, or because you want to get it over with as quickly as possible.

These are some of the easy questions to ask yourself as you listen and watch your performance. But you need to go even further. How did your audience react to you? Many who successfully finish their speech or presentation often don’t remember what happened. They are so thrilled to have it over that they can’t remember specifics.

This is where the video-recorder can be most beneficial. If you have a few jokes that have gotten no response, for example, then maybe you should change your style of delivery. Not everyone can tell a joke successfully. Maybe your humor is funny to you but not to your audience. On the other hand, your audience may have laughed at something you said that you had never considered humorous before.

This actually happened to me many years ago. In talking about voice, I was discussing the role of the diaphragm in supported breathing and I said, “we all have one (a diaphragm) we just don’t use it”! Upon hearing that remark, this one particular group burst out laughing. I had never thought that that statement was funny, because in discussing the diaphragm in the past, I had never thought of it in its other role as a contraceptive device.

You may have a wonderfully supportive audience who thanks you and was enamored with your presentation. But you still don’t a visual or an aural representation of what really happened until you are able to playback the video and watch yourself in action.

Become your own best critic if you want to be the best that you can be in public speaking.

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