Whitman College


Rhetoric and Public Address Department


Erika Anderson

Good Delivery

 

When you actually give your speech, you want the delivery to be effective. How effective your delivery is depends on how you prepare and practice for it. Here is a step by step process on how to prepare to deliver a speech.

First, make sure that the content of your speech is finalized and is exactly what you want to say to the class the following day. I started practicing for the delivery the afternoon of the day before I gave it. I found that if I could spend that afternoon, night, and some time the next morning to prepare, than that was enough time. I started to work on the speech almost twenty four hours before I was going to give it and that intensity helped the preparing process.

Next, print out a copy of your outline. Try to use a large font so that you can read your outline by just glancing at it. Read it over to familiarize yourself with it. Read it enough times that you start to learn the order of your information. At this time you should have your visual aids and any props finished.

Okay, now go into a room by yourself with all of your props and your outline. I went into a T.V. room in Prentiss so that no one would hear me or bother me. You want to have a chair or a table to place your outline on so that you can see it but you are not just going to hold it and read it. Now, locate where your audience would be and you can even pretend that you are in the classroom. Starting is the hardest part. Try to leave your outline on the table and say your whole speech out loud even if you have to read the whole outline. It is extremely important to actually say your speech out load. Practicing by reading it or saying it to yourself in your head is not helpful. You will find that actually speaking the words is more difficult. Once you have run through is once, then make sure that your props are ready and run through it again using them exactly as you will tomorrow. As you practice, do not leave out demonstrations or video clips because how you practice is how you will give it.

Now, you need to get geared up to learning it well. I recommend running through the speech at least five times in a row to ingrain it in your head. Every time you give it you should be learning more of it and it should become easier. While practicing, you should be reading all the quotations so that you can read them smoothly tomorrow. Some tips to practicing include continuing on with the speech when you mess up and avoiding practicing the speech in sections. Keep running through the entire speech. Continue to practice until you know the speech well. I cannot tell you a certain number of times that you should practice because it depends on how fast you learn and how well you know the information. When I gave my speech on "term limits," I practiced for many more hours than I practiced for my speech on "Picking up Men and Women in California."

While practicing you should follow my practicing tips. First, you will notice that each time you practice your speech your words come out differently. If they are coming out differently, then you are doing well. You do not want to be learning it word for word, but rather learning the basic idea on the outline and therefore your delivery will appear conversational. Also, as you practice, imagine your audience in different places and make sure to look all around you as if they were there. Practice your audience interactions even though they are not present. If you ask them a question in your speech, then ask it and pause and pretend that they responded. Think about what your response will be to their possible different answers. In addition, make sure to practice speaking more loudly than you want to. When you actually give it, your nerves will probably help you tone down your voice and it will be at the perfect level. You also need to over exaggerate all voice inflections and energy so that you will have enough when you give the speech. I practiced with a lot of energy for every speech but when I got nervous I became less energetic. Jim always told me that I needed more energy. These are the basic practicing tips.

Your next big step is to practice in front of an audience. I recommend having your good friends be your audience. This technique forces you to be serious in front of people that you have a tendency to laugh with. I find it harder to practice in front of my friends than in front of the class. You will find that giving your speech to an audience is harder because you are forced to keep going as if you were giving it in class. It is a different feeling than saying it out loud and rewording a phrase if you do not like the way it sounds when you are alone. Before you give your speech, tell your friends what kind of feed back and criticism you would like. Take what they tell you seriously and try to work with it. My friend gave me more ideas about audience interaction and they helped improve my speech. After your friends leave, practice your speech no more than three more times. Go to bed and get a good night sleep so that you will have energy to give the speech tomorrow.

The morning of the speech you should just be practicing and psyching yourself up for your speech. Practice it a couple more times to familiarize yourself with it again. When you know it so well that you are getting sick of it, then ask a different friend to be your audience and give you last minute advice. By now you should be set but you could practice one more time. Then you must stop. You know the speech and you have the confidence to give it. Make sure to relax and take a deep breath. Allow about an hour before class where you do not work on it because you are done. All you have to do is give it in class.

If you follow this step by step plan, you will be prepared to deliver an excellent speech. By practicing it by yourself and in front of an active audience you will be prepared. Just make sure to diligently practice as many times as I stated and you will know it almost well enough to never look at your notes. At the end, take a deep breath and have confidence that you WILL give a good delivery. Good Luck.

 

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Questions or Comments? Send mail to Jim Hanson at hansonjb@whitman.edu.