A true story of perseverance.

The band is called Osaka Flu and the word was “whore.”

(If that didn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will!)

The lead-singer and back-up vocalist had come to me for help.  Their band, based here in Arezzo – but, of course, with hopes to make it BIG – plays original tunes in clubs around Tuscany in a style that sounds like a mix between Oasis and Green Day.  Their angst-filled lyrics are all in English. But when I first met them, their overly Italian pronunciation was anything but.

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“No, no,” I admonished at our first lesson, “the ‘W’ in ‘whore’ is silent.  Not like ‘War.’ Just pronounce the ‘H’.  Like ‘Hore.’ That’s it.  Really punch that breath-sound in the letter ‘H.’ Good.”

Here I was helping a guy put the proper pronunciation on that dreadful misogynistic word.  Lovely. My mother would be so proud.

To be fair, the word was part of a metaphor, “You walked out the door, just like a whore….”  The girl in question was only being compared to that term; she was not directly referred to as such.  And anyway, it’s not like I can pretend that I never listened to my share of way-not-feminist bands in my day like, Guns-N-Roses, Van Halen and Motley Crue.  But I digress.

These young men were in earnest.  They truly wanted to sing with proper American-rocker like pronunciation. So I helped them.

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Yes, this is Osaka Flu. But this is not how our training sessions looked.. 😉

Every “Leesten” became “Listen.”

Every “Deen’t” became “Didn’t.”

Every “Going to” became “Gonna.”

Every “F**king” became “F**kin’.”  You get the idea.

The point here is not to take their choice of lyrics to task, but to demonstrate to you that these guys were dedicated and worked hard.  The lead singer can barely carry a conversation in English, but man, he was committed to singing in it.

They came once a week for about an hour.  They would sing a song and I would digitally record it. Then I would play it back and point out the mistakes and they would practice it again. And again. And again.

That was two years ago.   And they have now begun recording their first original cd – full of the songs that I helped them with.  Today, the lead singer picked me up and took me to the recording studio so I could listen to each track and let them know if it passed the grade to my finely tuned American-rocker-girl ears.

They did.  They sounded great.

Yes, each song was still filled with sex and drugs – it’s only rock-n-roll after all.  But each song also sounded like a real American-style rocker was singing it.  Their Italian accents had been successfully silenced.

These guys had a plan, they sought out someone who could help them, and they persevered. It has taken them two years, but they didn’t give up.  They stuck to it.

As I listened to their recordings today, I was honestly filled with pride.  There wasn’t a hint of ‘W’ in that aforementioned word.  Good job, gentlemen.

Til next time, what endeavor are you thinking about undertaking?  Will it take a long time?  So what! Why not get started now?! Let me know about it! 

Gina

For more information on how I may help you achieve your goals, reach out to me here – or please visit my website at GinaLondon.com 

Copyright 2014 Gina London. All rights reserved.

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Practice. Hard work that’s worth it.

Here in Italy, this is the first full week of elementare. Italian schools skip kindergarten, so at still five-years -old, Lulu has abruptly jumped from preschool to first grade.

First day of first grade here in Tuscany.
First day of first grade here in Tuscany.

“There’s so much work now.  I liked materna (preschool) better!” she has told me.

“But it takes hard work to get better.  It’s worth the effort!” I advise.

If you have taken the time to write an audience-worthy speech with captivating and simple slides, you need to make the effort to practice your presentation.

Several times.

I know a consultant who says she will rehearse a new keynote speech about twenty times before giving it.

Gina’s practical practice tips.

Read your script out-loud.   Don’t simply read your script to yourself and then glance at your slides.   Practicing out-loud is a great opportunity to adjust your wording, add in more active verbs and colorful adjectives if it’s within your personality – to help create imagery for your audience.  Did you write the way you speak?

Now Stand-up.   If you’re going to present standing up, you better practice the same way.  Look out toward an imaginary audience.  Look away from your notes.  Make broad, wide gestures.  Click through your slides.

Memorize your Introduction and Closing.  Some consultants caution against memorization because they don’t want their clients to forget a word on presentation day and freeze.  But I urge you to memorize not only the words of your first and final paragraphs, but also the intent. Once memorized, rehearse these words with the proper feeling  and comprehension – don’t just recite them by rote.  That way, you’ll have a strong beginning and finish.

Practice in sections and completely  It may be helpful to pull-out a difficult section and repeat it several times to make sure you don’t forget a data point and stumble on presentation day.  But don’t forget to practice your full presentation in real-time.  When I was in the TV news business, we would sometimes record my report and send it out the satellite for stations to use later.  It was called a “look live” – which means I presented just as if I were live – not stopping if I slightly tripped on a word or phrase.  Run through your complete presentation, from beginning to end.

Record and play back.  There is no substitute for watching yourself.   Set up a flip cam or your phone and hit record!  Imagine you’re the audience watching your presentation for the first time.  Are you engaging and memorable?  What can you do to make yourself that way?

You will learn the flow of your slides.  You’ll hear where you need to tighten up your words and make your points stronger.  You’ll see your facial expressions and gestures. Practice is a great thing!

Success in presentations, like school, takes hard work!
Success in presentations, like school, takes hard work!

Author Ray Bradbury backs up what I said to my young daughter when he said, “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off.  If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.”

If you have a video of a presentation you made, email it to me. I’ll give you a free evaluation!

Baci, 

Gina