Delivering a Speech? The Best Way To Practice

Delivering a Speech? The Best Way To Practice

I was at a cocktail function recently (don’t you just envy my social life!) and we asked one of our friends to accompany us to a night club lime afterwards. He said he had to forego his opportunity to dance with me but he had to go home and practice a speech he was delivering the next day.

Just when I was about to commend him, another friend declared: You mind him? Go home and practice what! He delivers speeches all the time he doesn’t need to practice anything!

Hello! If you’re part of those that believe that after you’ve presented X-amount of speeches you no longer have to practice, you are so wrong! I believe that the only way you can believe that is because you don’t know how to practice a speech. So hey, be my guest, use the following tips to help yourself.

Decide on your mode of delivery

Are you going to deliver a memorised speech? Read a script? Or give an extemporaneous speech? That’s up to you.

You don’t want to memorise your speechif your memory is like mine (average) unless you’re a contestant in some oratorical event. Can you imagine writing out a 30-minute speech and committing it to memory? Phew!

The manuscript speech is used for formal speeches where it is important to say the right words and not forget any important points. This requires superior presentation skills so that you do not appear as though well…you’re reading the speech.

The extemporaneous speechis 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, but the way you share that information is decided as you go along.

How many times should you practice 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 and 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.

No shortcuts

Make yourself go through the entire speech on each practice. If you don’t, the beginning gets practiced and polished many times and the ending just a few.

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 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. Your brain will always try to recall the last thing that you practised from the old cards.

Practicing out loud

This is a matter of choice. Saying your speech out loud allows you to hear your voice and lets you know how soundly you have fixed your ideas in your head. My girlfriend says that this 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.

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!

Practice the timing of your speech

If you are not told how long you are to speak for, ask and time your speech as you rehearse it. For some reason, the rehearsal time and actual “before the audience” time always differ. Therefore, in rehearsals leave from 30 seconds to 1 minute at the end of your speech to accommodate this reality.

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 present it. I don’t agree or I’m too chicken (or smart!) to present anything but a short impromptu speech which I have not prepared including at least one practice session. Practicing helps to fix the ideas in your head and ensures that your delivery is smooth.

Yes! You have to practice your speech. And how do you practice? The best way to practice your speech is away from the audience, not on the audience. I’m serious.

Copyright© 2010 Lorna Barrow, Impact training & Development Services – Delivering a Speech? The Best Way To Practice – August 14, 2010.

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