I needed to speak in front of a lot of people. Individually, one-on-one I can talk up a storm. In front of an audience, my hands tremble and I go a little numb. My brain seems to hum. I feel disconnected from myself.

My mouth goes dry. I feel like I cannot swallow.

I’ve learned that every word I want to say needs to be written down. Read aloud. Edited and reedited. Memorized so that the cheat sheet I take up to a podium with me is a security blanket and I can still make good eye contact with the audience. That cheat sheet has to be in a gigantic font so I can read it with ease.

I once performed a speech so many times in front of Keck that he could say it for me. Okay so maybe it wasn’t that much but at least he indulged me.

Last year, I read the book, Talk Like Ted. It really helped me understand how to tell a story and that a story needs to honed in order to express any big idea I want to share.

While the old saw, practice makes perfect, is true. Perfect practice makes perfect is one of the things that Keck says to me. Why? Because if I were to constantly rehearse my bad habits, such as using filler words or distracting hand motions, wearing jingly clothes, using type dense slides, or looking at my feet while talking, the talk or speech would never be even remotely good enough.

May my words and my thoughts
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my sheltering rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14