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Imagine that you’re planning to deliver a speech.  You have your to-do list and one of the items on your list is to practice, right?  There isn’t one style of practicing however you may wish to consider these six guidelines for your next practice.

1.  How long should you plan to practice?   

This is a question my clients often ask and while there is no specific number, the general rule is that a presentation requires 60 hours of practice. If that seems somewhat daunting to you, I advise you plan on a minimum of three times.  You can always add on and practice more, if you wish.

2. What is the benefit of practicing aloud vs. in your head?

When you practice, plan to do so out loud (vs. mentally preparing in your head). This provides you with multiple benefits.  First of all, you can hear what you plan to say and make changes accordingly.  Second, you have the opportunity to see if the words roll right off your tongue or if a substitution is better. Third, you can time yourself and shorten or lengthen your message.  Finally, by practicing out loud, you increase your familiarity with the content.

3. Is it best to go through your entire speech every time you practice?

You can do this if you desire, however it isn’t the best use of your time.  Instead, I recommend the technique of “chunking” your message so that you practice key parts, as needed.  For example, you may decide to focus your attention on your opening comments, your closing remarks, the body of your presentation, or the transitions from one segment to another.  Ultimately, you want to bridge these different sections.

 4. What is the value of recording your practice?

By recording your speech or presentation, you can listen to just the audio feedback or strictly the visual component.  You may opt to use your phone or tablet or the device of your choice. This allows you a way of self-evaluating so you may decide what to replicate as well as what to improve.

 5. Is memorization part of practicing your speech?

The answer is no, however you may opt to commit your opening and closing to memory.  Both of these should be very short which makes them easier to recall.  Also, while you are practicing multiple times, you don’t necessarily have to say the same words but the same idea.  So, if you change the structure somewhat, that’s a bonus.  Remember, you’re not wed to the verbiage but to the concept.

6. Is location of my practice important?

If possible, I strongly encourage at least one practice in the venue in which you’ll be speaking.  If that’s not ideal, at least stand up while speaking and use gestures.  The goal is attempting to simulate your actual speaking environment.

These six strategies are an excellent start to your next practice.  You’re welcome to call me (518-664-6004) or write me (dale@profitablespeech.com) to help you continue to succeed.