Why do I have to practice 25 times?

People ask me for advice on how to speak better.

When I tell them they have to practice 25 times, their eyes glaze over.  They don’t want to hear it.  What they want to hear is, “Yes, you can be lazy AND awesome at the same time”.  But it’s not true, man, sorry.  You can be lazy OR awesome, but not lazy AND awesome.

Here’s why I tell people to practice 25 times:

When you are speaking, you are using two things:  your body, and your spirit.

The first 10-12 times you practice your speech, you are training your body.  Your speech is a physical activity, and you have to train your muscles.  You are training your stomach muscles, and your throat muscles, and your mouth muscles.  You are training them how to do those particular words for that particular speech.

Meanwhile, your spirit is there, and you feel the excitement.  But actually, your spirit is tied down a little bit, worried that your body is going to forget the words.

About practice round #10 or #12, your body starts to remember the words really well.  They come automatically.  Your body doesn’t have to think about the muscle movements anymore.  Unfortunately, your spirit got bored, and left.  Now you are thinking, man, this speech sucks, I memorized the words, but I killed the spirit.

That’s okay, keep going, even if you feel dead, because in practice rounds 15-16, your spirit will start to come back, and it will realize, oh my god, the body knows what it’s doing now.  I don’t have to worry about the body.

The body is fully trained, so now the spirit is free, because it knows the body will do its job dependably.

So now in practice rounds 16-25, you are training the spirit.  You are training the spirit how to fly around the room, reach into peoples’ hearts, and pull them in closer to you.

In practice rounds 1-10, the spirit couldn’t fly freely, because it was worried about the body (“uh oh, what if the body forgets the words?”).  Thirty percent of your spirit was tied to your body, and only 70% could fly freely around the room.  Now, however, in practice rounds 16-25, 100% of your spirit will be free to fly.

By the way, actually, you can usually stop practicing around time #20.  You don’t have to go all the way to #25.

If you hit #20 and your spirit is flying freely, and you can’t wait to stand in front of the audience and unleash your spirit to fly around the room, then kick back, put your feet up, crack open a cold beer, and relax.  Your job is done.