Should You practice Your Speech?
Do you have to practice your speech? and Can you just wing it? are two of the most frequently asked questions by students and clients alike.
I answer this question with the phrase that practically every sports coach yells: Practice! Practice! Practice!
Why do sports coaches shout this saying? Because it works.
Public Speaking is no exception to this rule.
There are two reasons to prepare.
1. The Elements. You might give your talk to a large group--perhaps hundreds of guests.
Add a microphone, bright lights, and some noise. You have a hard place to successfully make up a spur of the moment speech.
Without preparation, your speech could be little more than a few wordy sentences, surrounded by a sea of ums and uhs.
On the other hand, preparation will help you give a terrific speech, even with the distractions that you might face.
2. The video. Because your speech will probably be on video, it will be viewed over and over again for years to come!
Your speech might even be shown over the internet. Let the masses witness a well prepared and delivered speech.
Bottom Line: If you practice your speech several times, you will be much more familiar with your material. This means that you will feel more confident, more comfortable, and much less nervous when looking at the audience.
How many times should you practice your speech?
Practice out loud (not by reading quietly to yourself) at least five (5) times. If you could practice more, that's even better.
Try to practice your speech once each day for the five days leading up to the occasion.
For example, if you're speaking at a Saturday Wedding Reception, then practice at least once on Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. This alone will make you more familiar with the speech and help your speech flow smoother on the big day.
Practicing in advance also gives you time to replace anything that does not work well in the speech.
What are the best ways to practice
Below are several effective ways to practice your speech, in no particular order.
Keep in mind that different techniques work better for different people. Rather than taking somebody else's word, look over all of these methods and then focus on your favorite technique(s).
1. In Front of the Mirror
Although some people are skeptical about this option, it can be very helpful for two reasons:
1st Reason: You have an opportunity to look at your delivery style and make adjustments (adding hand movements/gestures, uncrossing your legs, etc.)
2nd Reason: This method gives you a feeling of speaking in front of others.
2. In Front of Other People
Try to practice in front of a few friends or family members. This is especially helpful if they also will attend the event.
You will immediately hear about your strengths and areas for improvement.
This is how learned about a strange habit of mine. My practice audience told me that I scratched my knee thoughout the speech! Did my knee itch? No. It was just a nervous habit.
To help you along, look over the Evaluation Form on this website. Print as many copies of these forms as you need and let your practice audience members complete them while viewing your speech.
3. In The Actual Room
Practicing in the actual room when it is empty gives you the look and feel of speaking in front of an audience.
Plus, you have an opportunity to get comfortable with the room and perhaps inspect any equipment that you'll use during the speech.
If the room is not available, try an empty classroom, training room, or ballroom. Remember to keep the door closed.
You'll feel more acclimated during your speech if you are able to follow this method.
4. Video or Audio
Thanks to video equipment, cameras on our computers, and cell phone recording features, most of us can easily use this technique.
Find a quiet place, turn on the recording device, and you're good to go!
After finishing your speech, view the recording. What are your strengths? What should you improve? Take notes. Repeat this process as often as possible.
Years ago, a friend of mine urged me to record my practice speeches. I found out why...when listening to the recording, I talked so fast that I did not understand what I had said!
This helped me speak at a slower and more understandable rate.
Look over the Evaluation Form on this website. Print as many copies of these forms as you need and use them as you evaluate your recorded speech.
You'll see that when you start to practice your speech, everything else starts to take care of itself.
Where should you go from here?
Here are some last minute tips to get ready for the wedding.
Worried that something will go wrong? The What If? Page will show you how to put out fires before they happen.
If you follow the Speech Checklist ,then you will be ready for the big day. Here, you'll see the best speaking tips in one place.
Will you travel to the wedding? See the Travel Tips Page to make your trip as well as your speech an easier experience.
Go to Practice Your Speech Evaluation Form
Go to What If? Page
Go to Speech Checklist
Go to Travel Tips Page
Go to Delivery Tips Page
Return to Home Page