March 16, 2017

Deliberate Practice for Better Speaking

Resources , Instruction , Presentation Tips , The Buckley Experience , Seen|Read|Heard

"We focus all our time on just doing our job, performing, which turns out not to be a great way to improve. But the people who continue to spend time in the learning zone do continue to always improve."

– Learning expert Eduardo Briceño

Demosthenes was a great orator of Ancient Greece. Beyonce is queen of popular music and more.

What could these two have in common?

Learning expert Eduardo Briceño says they share at least one thing: Both improved with the use of deliberate practice.

In his TED Talk, Eduardo Briceño explains the value of deliberate practice.

In the Zones: Performance and Learning

In a TED Talk, Briceño proposes we exist in two zones—a performance zone and a learning zone. The performance zone permits us to get work done. But it’s those who spend time regularly in the learning zone who reach their greatest potential.

He describes how Beyonce uses the learning zone to improve her stage shows. And he goes into detail about the techniques Demosthenes used to improve his public speaking, such as hanging a sword above his shoulder and putting stones in his mouth—tactics that sound similar to (though more hazardous than) the “curative tortures” sometimes used in Buckley School seminars.

Keys to finding the learning zone

Briceño says learning requires breaking down activities into their component skills, then practicing those small, specific skills with feedback and adjustment.

In order to spend more time in the learning zone, he says an individual must:

  • Believe he or she can improve
  • Have a desire to do the work that’s needed
  • Know which techniques to use
  • Be able to practice in a low stakes situation


More evidence that it works for public speaking

School director Karen Kalutz says she can see the benefits of deliberate practice and using the learning zone in Buckley seminars and private coaching. “The people who come to work with us always bring a desire to get better and the willingness to work,” she says.

“We pride ourselves on providing the techniques, coaching and feedback, along with that low stakes, supportive environment. We know this approach is effective, because we see speakers at every skill level make so much improvement.”


Here’s Briceño’s full TED Talk about the benefits of deliberate practice:

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