Practice makes perfect, right?
At least, that’s what my piano teacher used to say.
Now I try to practice my speeches a little more often than I practiced the piano.
One thing that I’ve found very helpful is to read my speech into a recorder and note where I seem to screw up the words. Where do I stumble? What words can’t I put together? Is the flow logical? Will Imy word choices make the audience feel the emotions I want them to feel?
I have a microphone on my desk that I use for making podcasts. You can use a smartphone or a tablet. Getting permission from the owner first (if the equipment isn’t yours), check to see if there’s already a recorder app installed. If not, there are some you can get for free.
If you have a laptop with a camera installed, you can use it. Of if you have headphones with a microphone built in, those work too.
The point isn’t to force you to buy new equipment.
The point is for you to read out loud what you want to say in your speech.
Reading your speech out loud will improve your speech 10 times faster than just trying to memorize it silently. You’re working with several different mental levels when you read, speak, and hear your speech. By engaging more parts of your brain, you’ll train your ears and the sense inside you of what works for you.
Stand up! Don’t sit in a chair when you do this! Even if you have to do something crazy like tape the notes to a wall at eye level – stand up while you’re reading. You’ll have better breathing control and vocal variety.
Practice With Video
This is tricky. You may need to ask for help with this to figure out your stage with your camera. Propping the camera up safely if you don’t have a tripod, or putting the laptop on something sturdy so it won’t fall take priority, but if you do it once, you’ll be faster next time.
Using video will give you a view of your stage presence. Do you stay in one place? Are your hands going crazy or just stuffed in your pockets?
I don’t know that I’d do too many practices and watch myself again and again on video. I think it may reinforce some bad habits. It may be better to watch myself once and take some notes about what I want to change.
If you don’t have a video option, do you have a sliding glass door? I’ve used mine as a mirror to practice my staging. It’s very distracting to do it for the first few dozen times, but I’ve gotten the hang of it, I think. Then again, I have to relearn it every spring after I’ve been stuck indoors all winter.
Practice with an Audience
Be particular about who you want to perform in front of right now. You don’t need criticism. You need positive evaluations. If you don’t think you’re going to get that from someone, it’s better not to ask them to watch you.
If someone says they want to see you give your speech… that’s your call. You’ll know if you can say no or not.
How will you practice your speech? Make a list of 5 things you’ll do this week to get ready for your first big speech next week!