May 8, 1997
Practice Makes Perfect
Facing an audience of ten students or hundreds of people can be an intimidating task, but with practice, confidence and poise will empower you to give a successful delivery. Practicing a speech will enable you to be prepared, energetic, passionate, and confidante while delivery your speech. There are three phases of practicing that I recommend to help you build these skills which can make you an excellent public speaker.
Phase one begins by practicing your speech one week before the actual presentation day. If you are ready to practice a week in advance, you have already researched and prepared your speech, which is the essential component of a good speech. The practice that takes place in phase one consists of talking with friends about your topic, which will help you become familiar with you topic. If you can explain your topic to others without referring to notes, then you have a good understanding of your topic which allows your knowledge to shine through in your speech. Also, talking with your friends will help you develop a passion for your topic, which will make your speech more energetic and entertaining to listen to on the day of your speech. The last step to follow in phase one of practice is to actually practice your speech once or twice privately. Practice your speech completely which will guide you to the amount of time it takes you to deliver your speech, as well as help you develop a smooth flow.
Phase two of practice should occur two days before the actual day of delivery. By this time you should be very familiar and comfortable with the subject matter. Rehearsal of the delivery should still be done privately and I recommend to practice while standing in front of a mirror. The main focus of phase two should be spent on perfecting and establishing style, smooth transitions, and decreasing your reliance on your outline. Developing style is a key point because this is what makes your speech interesting and entertaining. Style can consist of many different components, for example, changes in voice intonation, different energy levels, using parallelism, and simply pausing in correct places in the speech to emphasize important points. Transitions are used to connect the next point in your speech in a smooth and concise manner. With practice, transitions will become natural and help make your speech easy to follow. Also, good transitions will make your speech concise, which shortens the length of the speech and enables you to convey more information to your audience. Finally, phase two is not a time to spend memorizing your speech, but rather, a time to become an expert on your topic and to practice delivering your speech in a concise and smooth manor.
Phase three is the final step in practicing your speech. Phase three is carried out on the day of your actual delivery, maybe a few minutes or hours before you give the speech. Practice should include delivering the speech as if it were the real delivery. If possible, practice in the room in which you are going to be in when you give your speech. Being in the actual room will help you get a feel for the atmosphere and also clue you into any problem areas that may exist. Also, phase three is the perfect time to really emphasize voice intonations, style, energy, passion, and speed of delivery. What you should get out of this time spent practicing is confidence in delivering your speech. If a friend is available, ask him or her to come and watch you so you can become more comfortable while speaking in front of an audience.
Now that you have made it through the three phases of practice, you are ready to deliver your speech. Have fun and enjoy your speech and show everyone your excellence and expert knowledge of the topic. If you are enjoying yourself, your audience will enjoy themselves as well. Always remember, practice makes perfect!