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How’s your muscle memory?

Some people associate muscle memory with going to the gym, participating in a sport, playing an instrument, or conducting some form of physical exercise.  If that’s you, you may want to rethink your definition of this term because muscle memory clearly applies to public speaking.

Did you know that public speaking involves approximately 100 different muscles which are a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic muscles?  That may surprise you, however it explains why communication is often considered challenging. In essence, this means that the muscles of our body need to learn and remember how to perform the required movements or actions.

Muscle memory, as defined by Merriam-Webster is the ability to repeat a specific muscular movement with improved efficiency and accuracy that is acquired through practice and repetition.  When you reflect on either your last presentation or an upcoming presentation, it requires the ability to clearly articulate words (tongue, teeth, palate, lips, jaw), to use  adequate volume and breath support to be heard by your listeners (nostrils, lungs, diaphragm, abdomen), to demonstrate correct posture (back, legs), to look at your audience (eyes), to respond to comments and questions (ears, brain) and to use your slides or props (armshands).

Therefore, given the enormous complexity of communication, it requires significant practice out loud so that you can achieve public speaking muscle memory. Each of us is unique so the amount of practice will differ and there isn’t one answer that is right for all speakers. The goal is not necessarily to memorize your message but to become quite familiar with your content allowing you to converse with your audience rather than to speak at them. This will assist you in coming across as far more natural, conversational, genuine, credible, and confident.

Remember that the two key elements to muscle memory are practice and repetition. These elements cannot and should not be overlooked, whether you’re speaking for a shorter or longer amount of time. If you’re interested in discussing this subject further, please contact me at dale@profitablespeech.com or 518-664-6004.