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The Best Speakers <i>Don’t</i> Work Harder than You . . .

The Best Speakers Work Much, Much, Much Harder!

Have you read Malcomb Gladwell’s book , Outliers, The Story of Success?  If not, I strongly suggest you buy and devour it!  Hard work is not the only thing that can lead to success in life, but it is one of the things you can control and do something about.

Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert.

The first person I thought about when I read that was Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimming champion, who won 14 Olympic gold medals.  He truly can be considered the best of the best.

It didn’t come without an extraordinary amount of effort, dedication and personal sacrifice.  10,000 hours to become and expert. That is an amazing amount of time, and I’ve got to assume that Michael Phelps did that.  When his friends were hanging out, socializing, and having fun – he was in the pool.  When others his age were traveling, watching movies, or just relaxing with friends and family – he was in the pool.  When other people his age were . . . – well, you’ve got the idea.

This post, and the Michael Phelps example, came to mind as we’re experiencing the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.  None of the athletes in these games got to compete at this level on a whim and a prayer.  They have worked, and worked, and worked some more at getting better in their chosen sport.  They are the best of the best in their chosen field.  Many have left friends, family and event their homeland to work with single-minded determination on their goal.  Not all will receive medals for all their sacrifice, but they will all be better for the effort that is made.

It is the Process, not the event, that makes us better.  The Journey, not the end, that makes us stronger; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The same rules apply if you want to be a great speaker vs. just a speaker.

If you want to be a runner – Run. If you want to be a swimmer – Swim. If you want to be a speaker – Speak!

Speak as many times as you can and in as many different venues as you can find.

Record, by video and audio, your talks.  Then, watch and listen to them.

Get feedback from your audiences and friends.  Ask for three suggestions to improve your presentation.

Join Toastmasters.  Let me repeat that one – Join Toastmasters! Toastmasters gives members a nurturing environment to practice and get better at speaking.

About the Author: Fred E. Miller coaches, speaks and writes about Public Speaking and Presentation Skills. 314-517-8772

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