Practice Makes Pefect

Bette Daoust, Ph.D.

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What is the problem when people try to describe what they do and they stumble over their words and never consistently repeat the same message?

Have you ever gone to a networking event and the person next to you is trying to describe what they do and they keep miscuing the words? This happens so often at these events. The major problem, besides focus, is the fact that they have not practiced their spiel. Why is it that they do not practice? Quite often you feel self-conscious when trying to practice in front of a mirror and others are around to hear you try over and over again. The solution is to make sure you have a door closed where you cannot be disturbed. Or you may decide that taping yourself (audio only) or videotaping yourself to hear and see how you look while making the presentation. This is how the professionals do it. They practice and practice until their presentation is smooth. Did you know that Robin Williams takes at least 37 tries on any movie set before he feels that his performance is up to par? He is a seasoned pro, yet he still practices all the time. Could you also imagine Michael Jordan not practicing throwing balls into the hoop?

Even having reached the professional level, practice becomes even more imperative. Without practice, there is no moving forward; without it, you will be surprised that the words do not flow the way they should. You must become the expert if you are to work a room effectively. Do not think of this in terms of a smooth talking salesman (the connotation is often negative), but as the way you present yourself, with confidence and poise. People will more likely enjoy listening to you when your message is practiced.

Practice is like acting, you need to keep working on it until you think the pitch is perfect. Practicing the words is not the only thing you need to work on. How you move your body, your eye contact, hand gestures, arm positions, how you stand, and how your face looks, all play a part in your practice sessions. You need to treat your practice session like you are playing a part in a movie. Soft skills such as body language and intonation all contribute to the pitch.

Bette Daoust, Ph. D. has been networking with others since leaving high school years ago. Realizing that no one really cared about what she did in life unless she had someone to tell and excite. She decided to find the best ways to get people’s attention, be creative in how she presented herself and products, getting people to know who she was, and being visible all the time. Her friends and colleagues have often dubbed her the “Networking Queen”. Blueprint for Networking Success: 150 ways to promote yourself is the first in this series. Blueprint for Branding Yourself: Another 150 ways to promote yourself is planned for release in 2005. For more information visit


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