Treat it as a performance

Delivering a presentation that is smooth, insightful and ends right on time can be a big ask. Lots of intelligent people mess it up. One of the speakers who really seems to get it right is Malcolm Gladwell. If you have ever watched him speak (like here on TED), you may notice how he speaks eloquently, even effortlessly, and ends with precise punctuality.

When asked about it once, Gladwell replied, “I know it may not look like this. But it’s all scripted. I write down every word and then I learn it off by heart. I do that with all my talks and I’ve got lots of them.”

It’s great to connect with your audience as if you were just having a casual chat with them. And sometimes that’s precisely what you will want to do. Other times, like maybe when you want to really nail it, you might be interested to discover what happens when you go beyond the bullet points and rehearse, refine and distill the most important information that you are there to share. Focus on the most important stuff; skip the rest. Polish, polish, polish. And you might just find yourself on a level where you have that polish that casual speaking just doesn’t allow.

While memorizing isn’t “the answer”, if you want to deliver a professional-standard speech, you might consider treating your next presentation as a performance.

Bringing deliberate practice into speaking is challenging – hence so many speakers stagnate – though by refining your work, looking for ways to raise your standards, you give yourself a chance of lifting your bar.

That what seems to work for the guy who wrote The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers and, more recently, What the Dog Saw.