An Audience Isn't a Mirror: Practice Your Speech on Real People

An Audience Isn't a Mirror: Practice Your Speech on Real People

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Everyone who gives speeches regularly has their own way to prepare, from outlines, to memorization, to winging it. Being in a Toastmasters' club for over three years, I've spoken regularly enough to experiment with many speech preparation techniques. In the beginning, I tireless rehearsed speeches in front my bathroom mirror for hours in the hope of becoming a more confident and better speaker. Trust me, practicing in your bathroom mirror accomplishes nothing. Unless you consider having really awkward sounding speech an accomplishment, then yes practicing to the magic mirror on the wall is the path to achievement. I stopped practicing speeches in my bathroom mirror when I listened to a recording of myself giving a speech. I cannot stress how terrible I sounded. My voice's pitch and rate variation was really cheesy with empathizes in the most awkward of places. After hearing a recoding of myself giving a speech, I dreaded my next presentation. The next speech preparation experiment I tried was to procrastinate till the last minute. That’s not a good idea either. A possible side effect of procrastinating on a speech is mini-panic attacks and a sloppy speech. However, though many more trials and errors and a lot of good advice, I’ve found a method which beautifully. I call it “great speech giving for the awkward and faint at heart”.
There are some things you should definitely not do when preparing for a speech. No matter how nervous you are, don't memorize your speech and don't read it word-for-word, it'll sound both fake and flat. A speech isn't a recital either. On the other end of the scale, unless you're an experience speaker with superhuman powers, winging it with no prep or notes is risky and freakin' scary. You shou...


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...re, do some confidence boosting power poses, and enlist the power of positive thinking. Picture yourself standing tall and confident, nailing that presentation like a real pro, and imagine the sweet sound of applause from the audience that will follow your speech. If you can, arrive early and practice your walk up to the stage and walk all around the podium if you're nervous about being on stage.
By writing and reverse out-lining your speech and practicing it on real people instead of in a mirror, you can practice effectively to give an engaging and lively talk, no matter your skill level or public speaking experience. Just remember “you play like you practice” and make your practice just as good as you want your speech to be. To get more practice giving speeches, consider joining a Toastmasters club or taking a course in public speaking to get more experience.

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