Apple picking is one of my favorite fall traditions. We trek up the hill to the orchard with bags that start out empty, but after an hour they are so heavy it seems like they might break. And the best apples are always at the top – the top of the hill, the top of tree. This year, as we were reaching high to get the best apples on the tree – the metaphor struck me. Success is like that too – the best results come when you reach further than everyone else.

The time you spend developing and practicing your communication skills can really pay off. Here are few “stretching exercises” we can suggest:

Low tech: Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself deliver your talk. This lets you assess your body language, posture and facial expressions as you nail down the articulation of your talking points.

Mid Tech: Set up your webcam or phone’s camera to capture your presentation. This takes your review one step further. It not only lets you reflect on your non-verbal presence but also helps you gage your volume and intonation.

High Tech: Try out PresentR! This software gives real-time feedback on your presentation skills and tracks your progress. It not only lets you play back your presentation but evaluates your eye contact, vocal volume, gestures, and vocal fillers – like um and ah.  More information about PresentR is available here.

All of these practice techniques can enhance the benefits of working with a coach who can also help with articulation– and each will help you develop the skills you need to wow your audience.