So what makes a speech a really good speech? Is it that you are “on fire” when you deliver it? Does your audience need to be “in the mood” to hear what you are going to tell them? Or is the magic of the words that you’ve put together that will allow you to connect with your audience and move them to action? Actually, it’s none of these – practice is what makes a speech work or not work. Do you know how to practice a speech?
We all live busy lives. It can be hard enough to find the time to pull together a speech, let alone to find the time to practice it. Because of this, all too often speakers just decide to skip the whole practicing thing. Turns out that this can be a big mistake.
The thing that we seem to forget is that the first time that we ever give a speech will be the worst delivery that we ever make of that material. We’ll fumble over our words, get lost in our thoughts, and generally do a poor job of communicating.
What we need to do is to take the time to practice our speech before we give it. I often get asked just exactly how many times you should plan on practicing your speech. It turns out that the answer is 7 times.
I’m afraid that I can’t point you to any hard science that shows that practicing a speech 7 times is the correct number of times to do it; however, experience has shown this seems to be the right number. The first 5 times that you practice a speech you will find yourself making changes to it. The 6th time you’ll pretty much leave it alone and the 7th time you’ll find yourself being slightly bored while giving the speech. This is perfect, when you have reached this state you will be able to focus on your audience and won’t be worried about remembering what the next word that you want to say is.
5 Ways To Correctly Practice Your Next Speech
If I’ve been able to convince you that you need to practice your next speech before you give it, then this will lead you to your next question: “How?” It’s funny that in all of the material that has been published on speaking in which speakers are told that they need to practice more, there’s actually very little information available on just exactly how we need to go about doing all of this practice.
Speaker Roena Oesting has been taking a look at the nitty gritty details of just what makes for an effective speech practice session and she’s got 5 suggestions for us.
- Be Natural: In order to have the best chance of connecting with your audience, you are going to want your words to come across as being natural, not forced. This means that you’re going to have to stifle the urge to write out and then memorize every word in your next speech. Taking the time to practice your speech will help you organize your thoughts and this will eliminate the need to have the whole speech written out.
- Create An Outline: I like to think of a speech as being a length of rope – you start at one end and work your way to the other end. In order to mark your progress along this “rope speech”, it can be helpful to know how far you’ve come and how far you still have yet to go. This is where an outline can come in handy. Don’t make it too detailed – just include enough points so that you’ll be able to understand what you want to say and what the next point that you’re going to want to cover will be.
- End Strong: The folks who study stuff like this tell us that what your audience is going to remember after your speech is over are the last few words that came out of your mouth. This means that the exact words that you use to close your speech are very important – you can’t be pulling these guys out of the air. Instead, take the time to write them down and memorize them. This way when you reach the end of your speech, you are guaranteed that you’ll be able to finish strong.
- Begin Strong: Once you are sure that you can end on a high note, you next need to make sure that you can start off on the right foot. Once again, taking the time to write out your opening and memorizing it can make this much easier to do. The purpose of your opening is to answer the one question that is on the minds of everyone who is sitting in the audience: “why should I bother to listen to you?”
- Practice Early: Don’t wait until you have your entire speech written out before you begin to practice it – it will be too late then. Instead, once you have your opening, outline, and closing created take a moment to give the speech a run-through. By doing this type of early practice you can detect where there may be problems with your speech before you’ve spent a lot of time getting your words right. It’s much easier to change parts of a speech before you have a big investment in it.
What All Of This Means For You
Anybody can stand up in front of an audience and give a speech. However, it takes something special to deliver a great speech. It takes a real polished speaker to do a good job of this. The only way that you’re going to become an effective speaker is by learning to practice your speech before you give it.
When you practice a speech, you try out different ways of organizing your words. This allows you to come up with the sequence that works best for the audience that you’ll be addressing. We’ve discussed 5 ways to correctly practice your next speech. By doing these you’ll transform your speech from an ok speech to an OMG speech.
The really great speakers that we all can name don’t have any special magic when they gave speeches. Instead, they have practiced their speeches and they have arranged their words to have the maximum impact on their audience. By practicing your next speech you can follow in their footsteps and become a great speaker also.
Question For You: How many times do you think that you should practice a speech before you give it?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Are you ready to kick your speaking skills up to the next level? If you are, then do you know how to become better? If you are thinking that you need to get one of those “fancy word of the day” calendars to practice with, that’s not going to do it. In fact, the secret to becoming a better speaker has nothing to do with learning a new skill. Rather, it has everything to do with becoming better at something that you should already be doing – practicing your next speech.