Running and public speaking have a lot in common, including the fact that both become easier over time when you practice them regularly using the correct techniques. And ideas that work for improving your running can also apply to improving your presentation skills.
Olympian, running coach and speaker Jeff Galloway writes a regular feature in Runner's World magazine, "The Starting Line: Tips for Beginners From an Easygoing Coach."
In the January 2013 issue, Galloway writes about "Mini Goals: Focus on achieveable targets every day, week and month."
"You want to aim high enough to stay motivated but not so high that you stress out if you fall short. The best solution is to set incremental goals - daily, weekly, and monthly targets that allow you to enjoy regular accomplishments and stay focused on your next step."
His suggestions also can be applied to improving your presentation skills.
For example, setting incremental goals can be very helpful. If you try to remove all your filler words such as "um," "ah," and "like" overnight, you most likely will be unsuccessful and end up feeling more frustrated.
Instead, break it down into manageable steps - first, become conscious of yourself saying the filler words during an actual or practice presentation. Then, try to replace them with a pause during which you breathe and think of what you want to say next. Finally, do this often enough that it becomes comfortable and routine.
Likewise, rather than trying to improve everything about your presentation skills because you have a high-stakes presentation tomorrow, give yourself time to make changes. Schedule a target presentation in the future which will motivate you to work on your skills and then do something every day to move you in the right direction.
Be specific about what you what to work on - reducing your filler words, making eye contact with more people in the audience, speaking louder, being more succinct - and then create opportunities where you can practice that skill. For example, give a quick status update at a team meeting, ask questions after someone else's presentation or offer comments during a project review. In so doing, you will gradually strengthen that skill and build up your public speaking muscle so you can eventually deliver a medal-worthy presentation.
Read the rest of Jeff Galloway's article here: http://www.runnersworld.com/beginners/mini-goals
For more on this subject, read my blog post,Public Speaking is Like Exercising
Gilda Bonanno's blog www.gildabonanno.blogspot.com