What’s The Right Way To Practice Giving A Speech?

We need to find ways to make our speech practice productive
We need to find ways to make our speech practice productive
Image Credit: Daniel Dionne

With a little luck, I think that we all understand the before we give our next speech we need to do some practice. I mean, you’ve put in the time to create your speech, you’ve probably jotted down some notes, now it’s time to give it a run through in order to make sure that it all works and you can show your audience the importance of public speaking. However, this is where things can get a bit tricky. Just exactly how much time should you allocate to this practice thing? For that matter, just exactly what should you be doing when you practice? What do speakers have to do in order to be prepared to deliver a great speech?

Make Sure You Practice Out Loud

When we practice, what we are trying to do is to get both our mind and our mouth to agree to cooperate. We want them to work together in order to allow us to convey a point to our audience. If you just spend your time running through your speech in your head, then you may do a good job of memorizing what you want to say, but you won’t be working on your ability to get your points across verbally. This will especially show up during transitions in your speech.

In order to get your brain and your mouth to agree to work together, you are going to have to practice giving your speech out loud. The good news is that you don’t need to be delivering your speech in front of a person or a camera when you do this. Instead, you need to focus on speaking clearly and not mumbling when you deliver your speech. The more time that you spend getting your mind and your mouth to work together, the easier it will become to deliver an effective speech when your big day arrives.

Do Not Practice In Front Of A Mirror

Most speakers tend to spend their time when they are practicing in front of a mirror. We like to pretend that the reflection that we are seeing is really our audience. However, it turns out that when we do this, we are making a mistake. We need to keep in mind that the reason that we are giving a speech is because we want to get our point across clearly to our audience. When we practice in front of a mirror, we never remember that this is what we are trying to do.

Instead, we spend our time checking out our hair, our teeth, or how our clothes look. As we were growing up, we were taught that the mirror was for making sure that we looked ok. The problem is that this has very little impact on how good our speech is going to be. We want to be able to determine if we are speaking with confidence and clarity. What you see in the mirror will not be able to answer this question for you.

Tell Your Test Audience What To Look For

When we take the time to practice our speech in front of people that we know, all too often the feedback that they will give us will be useless: “you were wonderful”. We need to keep in mind that the reason that we will be giving our speech will be because we want to make our point effectively.

In order to determine how good of a job of doing this you are doing, talk with your sample audience after you practice delivering your speech and ask them “what was my main point?” If they are able to tell you, then you are doing a good job. If they can’t, then ask them if they heard it when you brought up your main point. If they didn’t hear it, then ask them why. Use this kind of feedback to find ways to emphasize and boost your message.

Make Sure That You Are Prepared

Hopefully this point is not necessary, but I’ll cover it just in case. Every time that we give a speech, we end up expending a great deal of energy. What this means for you as a speaker is that you are going to have to go into your speech prepared. In order to prepare, you will need to get enough sleep the night before (8 hours is good). Additionally, you need to have loaded up on food – have a good breakfast. If you need caffeine, then make sure that you’ve taken it in – but not too much! Show up to give your speech energized and refreshed so that you’ll be ready to knock ’em dead.

Take A Careful Look At Your Speech

As speakers, we will be judged by the speech that we give. The credibility of the speech that you give will become your credibility. If you make a mistake and get a fact wrong, then your reputation is going to take a hit. What this means for you is that you need to take the time to fact check your speech both as you are creating it and then every time that you make a change to its contents. Keep in mind that correct grammar and syntax will also send a very clear message to your audience.

What All Of This Means For You

Giving a speech is a major effort. After we have been able to successfully create a speech, the hard work begins. We need to take the time to practice giving our speech so that we can show our audience the benefits of public speaking. One of the biggest challenges that we face when we are practicing our speech is that we may not know exactly how to go about practicing our speech. How should a speaker practice their next speech?

One of the most important things that we need to do is to make sure that when we are practicing our speech, we do it out loud. This allows our mind and our mouth to get in synch. We need to avoid practicing our speech in front of a mirror. When we stand in front of a mirror, we spend too much time checking out how we look. When we have people act as our test audience, we need to ask them the right questions afterwards. Find out if they were able to pick up on what your main point was. Make sure that you have plenty of rest and food in your system before you take the stage. Understand that your speech will reflect on you so take the time to double check your facts.

Every speech that we give can be a great speech. However, in order to make this happen we need to take the time to practice it. What this means is that we have to have a good understanding of what we want to accomplish by practicing our speech. Once we know what we want, we can go about conducting our practice in a way that will allow us to get the most out of it. Use these suggestions the next time that you are going to be giving a speech and discover just how much better your speech can be.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there is any way that you could effectively use a mirror when you were practicing a speech?

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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

When we give a speech, we really only have one main tool that we can use to communicate the importance of public speaking: our words. Our goal is to capture and hold the attention of our audience; however, sometimes this can appear to be very challenging because all we have to work with are words. However, what we need to realize is that we actually have a number of rhetorical devices that we can bring into play that can help us to achieve our goals. We just have to know what these devices are.