Tips for practicing your speech

As speeches draw ever-closer, here are a few tips for practicing effectively.

FIRST, be sure to actually practice. I know that seems basic, but you have no idea the number of students who told me they “practiced,” when they meant, “I went over it once before I came in.” Real practice requires us to review regularly, to constantly edit our material, and to attempt different ways to present the same information.

SECOND, it may help to record it. I tell students this during class all the time, but video recording a presentation is a great way to see what you ACTUALLY do, not just what you think you are doing. I also recommend reviewing the recording 3 times for 3 different purposes:

  1. The first time is JUST audio. Listen to your words alone; can you follow your own message? Do you preview clearly? Articulate your key points accurately? Summarize and transition effectively? What about vocal pauses (filler words)?
  2. The second time is JUST video (turn the sound off). Watch your movements carefully; does your body language convey confidence? Do you present yourself as a professional who knows their topic well? Do you seem inhibited?
  3. The last time is EVERYTHING. Watch the overall effectiveness of your presentation. Do your words and movements match? Does everything seem reasonable? Do you meet requirements?

THIRD, practice with a scoring guide in hand. I tell students this every semester, and each time, it rings true! Students who practice with their scoring guide in front of them, who use it as a checklist, are FAR more likely to be successful presenters!

FOURTH, replicate the experience. Try to get some friends (or classmates) to meet up in an empty classroom at some point before speeches are due. Use podiums, etc., to help your body acclimate to the experience of being in the classroom. Talk to your instructor for times that you can use YOUR classroom, too! I love when students practice with the equipment they will be using, because it makes each presentation more effective!

FINALLY, get your instructor’s help! Nobody knows more than your instructor what he or she will be expecting from you. For that reason, you need to spend time with your instructor reviewing the assignment. Sit down and ask questions of them. Get their input on your thesis, your presentation aids, your topic, whatever concerns you! I even tell students that I will be happy to sit down and watch them practice, with a scoring guide in my hands, and give them a sample grade–a frame of reference from which to continue developing their skills!

I hope these tips help, since your speeches start in about ONE WEEK! Use these to help you prepare more effectively!

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