Category: Presentation Skills
You might have noticed that we waited until now to make a big deal out of practice. We did that so you’d have a chance to learn the right way to present in public first – planning, goal setting, choosing the right motivators, using passionate subjects, writing a great presentation, mastering body language, giving to the audience, and the rest.
Well, you did it! You’ve come a longway. You’re getting good at this already even if you don’t realize it and even if you haven’t spoken a word yet.
It’s now time to introduce one of the most exciting, interesting and powerful concepts related to speaking: the neural pathway.
Neurons are nerve cells that specialize in transmitting information. Neural pathways are the links between neurons. The more we use particular neurons, the stronger the link between them becomes. The stronger the link, the easier it is for us to use the link. The stronger the neural pathway, the easier it is to repeat and perform the behavior associated with the pathway.
Here’s a great analogy for neural pathways. Imagine a single slender thread that’s very weak by itself. That’s a good representation of a neural pathway we only use once. Now, imagine several threads twisted together. Combined, they’re still weak, but stronger than a single strand. Now, imagine hundreds of threads combined--you get a rope; a strong, thick, powerful rope. When a neural pathway is used over and over again, it gets stronger too. By practicing consistently, you create a stronger neural pathway so that the connection for the information becomes more robust and the behavior associated with the connection happens more easily.
This would also explain why someone who hasn’t done something in a long time can do so without any recent practice, like ice skating or shooting a basketball or riding a bicycle.
Understanding this part of our brains is not necessary to learn public speaking, but it can make learning easier. We have found that the more you understand how you improve through practice, the more effective your practice becomes. You can make yourself better at most things by creating strong neural pathways which result from repeating the behavior. Public speaking is no different.
If you use the right methods and repeat them often, it will get easier and easier for you to do it well.
By the way, neural pathways are also a big reason why breaking out of comfort zones is so hard to do. We’ve all developed neural pathways for the behavior we’re now trying to change! If one doesn’t speak in public, no neural pathways for it get strengthened. When we get called on to do so, it’s particularly challenging because the pathways aren’t there, and the pathways for not doing it are. It gets stressful to try and switch gears – literally.
As you move into the practice area, remember the neural pathways! The more you practice, the more you will strengthen the behavior you’re trying to improve—public speaking!
Time to practice
You should now be ready for the next big phase: Practicing in the live Pspeak Online Practice Area. Do you feel ready to practice? Or is there something you feel you need to re-read?
You’re welcome to go back to any section you went through already to revisit it before you practice. No one’s going to make you practice. Here at Pspeak only you can decide when you feel ready.
If you are ready, it’s time to go to the live practice area. Here’s how it will work:
1) You can look for a “meeting” with room to join. You’ll get a turn to present to others in the room.
2) You can start your own meeting if there isn’t an available meeting. Someone usually jumps in pretty quickly, so you can be first to present if you’d like since you formed the meeting, or you can figure out who goes first with others in attendance.
When you practice, you’ll flex the muscles you built up during this process. You will find yourself using your intrinsic motivators, your passionate subject, your well thought out words, your presentation techniques, and a lot of other things you have already mastered!
Are you ready? If not, take your time. If you are, go for it!