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Getting to know you

It's important to know yourself. Strangely enough, most of us don't know ourselves very well. A person may have a nervous habit that is apparent only to a spouse, a friend, or someone else who knows the person well. The pressure of standing before an audience may cause the person to exaggerate the habit. That's why a video camera is a useful device for speakers' training. If you could see a video of yourself delivering a speech, or practicing a speech, you could probably detect many problems that would be fairly easy to correct. This is absolutely the best way to evaluate what you say, how you say it, and how you look while you're saying it.

If seeing yourself on video is impossible, ask your spouse or a friend whether you have any distracting mannerisms. After you have made a speech, ask someone in the audience to evaluate your body language, gestures, and appearance. Be sure you make it clear that you're not asking for a general opinion of your speech. Approving remarks such as ''I liked your speech'' are of little value. You need specific comments. Constructive criticism is hard to come by. Most people, especially friends and colleagues, don't like to criticize. If someone tells you your speech was ''good'' or ''great,'' don't take the comment too seriously. If the person says you mumbled, slouched, mispronounced words, or whatever, believe it.


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