Look at you! You’ve overcome your glossophobia (that’s just fear of public speaking), you’ve accepted an invitation to be the guest speaker at the Secret Society of Persons Dedicated to Watching Paint Dry (SSPDWPD) and you’ve written a brilliant speech.
Now comes the part that stops you in your tracks. Your delivery. And yes, you want to know about practicing your speech so you deliver the perfect speech.
That’s where I come in. I will now surround you with love and lead you through 8 super strategies for really practicing your speech in a way that will truly nail it for you as delivery goes.
But before I do, let me tell you why you should even be practicing your speech at all.
Every Speaker wants to have the audience eating out of their hands and YOU are no different! But if somebody is going to eat out of your hands, then you'd better make sure that you're holding something delicious in those hands.
Your main course is great content of course, but for dessert you really want to seduce them. To do this, you want to connect with your audience in such a way that the experience becomes a silky-smooth experience that they will remember for a long time.
Without practicing your speech, this will not happen. So if a vibrant presentation is the main course then deep practice is the dessert.
That's not all. When you don’t practice you worry about your speech and you don’t feel confident delivering it. Practicing your speech also guarantees that your delivery is just about flawless and your focus is where it belongs...on pleasuring your audience.
Now that you're completely convinced...here are your 8 super strategies for practicing your speech.
Decide on your “mode of delivery”
( that’s what the pros like to call it)
Are you going to deliver a memorised speech? Read a script? Or give an extemporaneous speech? That decision is up to you.
If your memory is like mine (just about average) you don’t want to memorise your speech, unless you’re a contestant in some oratorical event. If you do, you might sound like you…aahhmm... memorised the speech. And if you forget your “lines,” don't even call my name!
You can also write out you speech and present it from the script. The manuscript speech is used for formal speeches where it is important to say the right words and not forget any important points. But this approach is a “no-no” for a persuasive speech.
That leaves the extemporaneous speech or speaking without a formal script - the preferred approach by far, for many speakers. This is when you prepare note cards with the exact ideas and information that you want to share and deliver your speech from these.
This delivery style gives you a chance to sound seriously sincere, appear more confident and in complete control of the occasion. You can easily make eye contact, communicate with your audience in a relax fashion and free yourself from a prepared script.
How many times should you be practicing your speech?
If you’re speaking extemporaneously - enough to be able to quickly glance at your note cards and pick up the idea or information you want to share, look back at your audience and share it.
If you’re presenting from a prepared script - enough that if you lose your place when you look up, you’re not totally lost for words.
If you are doing the memorising thing - you decide!
This works out at anywhere between 3 – 6 times. Less than 3 might not fix your ideas in your head, more than 6 could make you sick of the poor, innocent speech.
Remember: these are only guidelines and you’re practicing your speech to seduce your listeners so you want to remember ideas not words.
Don’t short change the approach to your practice
Most persons new to public speaking rehearse in ways that are hazardous to their public speaking health. They begin, come to a place that needs more work, stop to work on it and then begin again. The results? The beginning gets practised and polished many times and the ending just a few. (Lord...I can't believe I used to do this too!)
A better approach is to go through the entire speech, make a mental or quick note of all the rough spots and then work on them collectively. In this way, each time you practice you will have fewer rough spots and you will rehearse the entire speech.
Don’t use a "practice" script
Use the actual note cards that you’re going to be speaking from. What usually happens is that you will make some cards, practice and edit from them and edit and practice and when you’re satisfied, you will write up a new set and put them away until it’s time to deliver the speech. Right?
Wrong! When you make changes and you write new cards, rehearse from them at least a couple of times. In this way, you will be familiar with the new cards and your mind will not be trying to remember the sequence, the format, etc, from the old cards.
Should you try practicing your speech out loud?
This is a matter of choice. Yours - not mine! But here are some relevant tips to help you choose:
- Practicing your speech out loud allows you to hear your voice and lets you know how well you have fixed your ideas in your head. Don't forget, too, your voice is also part of your "WOW" arsenal.
- My friend says that practicing your speech out loud to an empty space makes her feel like a clown. Remember, unless you’re speaking in a circus, it’s better to feel like a clown in private than to be a clown in front of an entire audience.
- Don’t practice in front of a mirror unless you think it will help. Trying to think of brilliant words to express your ideas and looking at yourself distracts one from the other. (No offence to you or your speech!)
- If you can, make a video of a couple of your efforts. This would be a great help but, a word of advice. When you review the video, don’t be overly concerned about the size of your eyes or the shape of your nose. You cannot change these. Check for your overall impact as a speaker i.e. your strengths and weaknesses. These you can control.
Practice with your visual aids
Yes I really did say that! Practice with your pictures, models, overhead projector, multi-media presentation, whatever. Be sure you know how everything works and that everything works! I've seen it too often - you've worked hard on how you look and how you sound, your speech rocks and then the projector sucks!
Practice the timing of you speech
If you are not told how long you are to speak for, ask the organisers and then time your speech as you rehearse it. For some unknown reason, (I suppose to take you down a notch) the rehearsal time and actual “before the audience” time almost always differ. Therefore, in practicing your speech, leave from 30 seconds to a minute at the end of your speech to accommodate this reality.
Practicing your speech in this way prevents you from having to speed up at the end to cover all your points or worse, having to slow down to stretch them out.
Practice, practice but don’t over practice
Some speakers claim that they don’t like practicing because the speech is no longer fresh when they’re ready to present it. I don’t agree but maybe I’m too chicken (or smart!) to present anything but a short impromptu speech which I have not practiced at least once.
It’s worth repeating here that when you don’t practice you worry about your speech and you don’t feel confident delivering it.
How do you know when you have practiced enough? When you feel within yourself that you’re ready to deliver your speech.
If you feel like you’re never going to be ready, stop working on your speech and start working on your confidence!
Wrapping it all up…
So there you have it, My 8 super strategies to help you practice so that you deliver the perfect speech. Remember: practicing your speech also guarantees that your delivery is just about flawless and your focus is where it belongs...on pleasuring your audience.
Now here is a quick summary of what you should do every time you practice:
- Decide on your “mode of delivery
- Practice your speech anywhere between 3 – 6 times
- Don’t short change your approach to the practice sessions
- Don’t use a practice script
- Remember why you should practice aloud
- Practice with your visual aids
- Practice the timing of your speech
- Practice, practice but don’t over practice
- Know that doing the above will help you to seduce your audience
To your strategic speaking success…
Learn how to deliver speeches like a pro…
My HandBook – “Fast and Easy Steps to Mastering Public Speaking” will show you how.
In this handbook I walk you through what to do before you even begin to write a speech, give you a method to organize a speech that can work for any speech, show you how to use body language effectively and share loads of other strategies for the beginner and the advanced speaker.
P.S: Sign up now and get instant updates from this blog
Subscribe to Blog via Email