The way you practice a presentation directly influences the outcome. So in this video, we’re going to talk about how to practice a speech. Let’s get into those details. (soft music) Hello there, friends.
Alex Lyon and we are at the end of a three-part series on public speaking this month. The first video is on the importance of public speaking. The one before this is on how to improve and this one is specifically on how to practice a speech.
So let’s get into the five ways that I recommend you practicing a speech and at the end of this video you may wanna stick around because I have a couple of resources to suggest to help you move your public speaking to the next level.
So the first way to practice a speech is to practice from an outline. Not word for word notes. I’ve given some version of this tip in a lot of different videos but let’s say it clearly. You must practice from an outline, a bare bones outline if you want to sound conversational, which is really what your listeners want from you.
They don’t want you to read your speech, they don’t want you to sound like you’ve memorized it. They want a conversation. And the way to get there is this. You take whatever notes you have to prepare at first, your first few drafts, and then you just keep cutting them down over and over again every time you practice until all you’re left with is a bulleted outline of your key points that you are going to hit.
That’s all you really want in the end. And that way you have a safety net to fall back on so you won’t ever lose your place. You can just glance down at your notes and then bounce your eyes right back up and present from an outline.
That’s the best way. Practice from an outline and in the end present like an outline. One of the things I will do in fact is, so I don’t sound like I’ve memorized it, I don’t sound like a robot, is every time I practice, I might say it a little differently on purpose so that I’m not tempted to memorize.
So don’t try to put it word for word, don’t try to memorize. Talking points only and practice from that kind of outline. The number two tip on how to practice is to spread out your practice sessions over time.
Don’t cram the night before. Don’t cram the morning before your presentation. I recommend spreading your practice sessions out over three days. The idea is to practice about three times each day over those three days.
I like to practice about 10 times before I stand up and speak and it’s really easier to do if you spread it out. A lot of great things happen when you spread out your practice sessions. The first thing that happens to me is it calms me down.
It says to me, hey there’s time. So if my earliest few practice sessions, practice times, don’t go so well, I say hey, there’s time. No problem, I got a few more days. I’ll work out these kinks. Another great thing that happens is, let’s say I’ve practiced it three times and then I sleep on it.
Oftentimes, in the middle of the day I’m doing other things, I’m washing dishes, my brain keeps working on it and keeps figuring out better ways to say something or a quicker way to get to the point. So in that downtime I believe that our brains are still working on it and we benefit from that downtime as well.
The other great thing about breaking up your practice sessions is it helps me with my composure in the moment. Because it feels to me, like muscle memory with an athlete, that I’ve done this before. I’ve been doing this presentation for days.
So it really helps me stay composed and at the moment. So spread out those practice sessions three times a day over three days. That usually is about what you need. The number three tip is to focus on only one or two improvements each time you practice it.
So you might just work on your structure and your outline the first few times through, that’s normal. The next few times through just pick one or two things, like oh now I’m just gonna work on looking up from my outline, eye contact for example.
The next time through you might just work on gestures and your posture a little bit. Every time you practice, add one or two things you wanna improve on because when you add too many things all at once when you try to get it perfect every time you practice, you’re going to get paralyzed because you can’t really improve more than one thing, or maybe two things, in any given practice session so focus on improvements and then start checking those off the list.
And then your fundamentals will all be in place by the time you actually stand up to present. Number four is to keep practice sessions realistic. Do not, for example, the whole time you’re practicing isolate yourself completely and make conditions perfect.
Because what ends up happening in the moment of your actual presentation is it won’t go perfectly. People will walk in late or they’ll get up to use the bathroom or there’ll be somebody with a lawn mower outside your window.
In fact, I’ve been recording this morning and there is a neighbor working with a chainsaw nearby that keeps distracting me but you just power through it. So after a few times practicing alone what I end up doing, when I practice, is I add distractions on purpose.
Like I will put the television or some music on and then I’ll talk over that because it creates a little bit of noise and distraction for me to cope with and I know that if I can practice through those distractions that during the actual moment I’ll be ready to push through.
Even if something weird or odd happens, it won’t throw me off as much. So keep practice sessions realistic. And the number five tip is to visualize the first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds of your presentation.
So by visualization, I mean the way a sports athlete does it. So you picture yourself walking up through that first 30 seconds of the moment, starting off your presentation, and then the last 30 seconds how you’re gonna close.
So athletes do this with great success. There is a study by Laure Ecard published in the 1980s and a lot of other studies like it on basketball free-throw shooting and they found people that only visualized actually did improve a little bit.
For people who practiced free throws, basketball free throws improved a little more. But athletes who did both, they visualized and they practiced, did the most improvement out of any of the groups. So by visualizing the first 30 seconds and last 30 seconds you’re going to be boosting your overall performance up quite a bit even if you don’t get to practice it a few extra sessions.
So those are the five tips I recommend in terms of how to practice for a speech. These are the ones I use personally and I have coached a lot of people over the years to use them and they really do work so put them into practice as soon as possible.
So I mentioned a couple of resources at the beginning I wanted to tell you about that are for you. The first one is a free PDF download. It’s instant tips to make you a more confident and composed public speaker.
You put your email address in and I email you those instant tips. It’s a PDF download. The second resource is a full course that I have created called Present Like a Pro. It’s a whole course and it’s designed to help you become a top 10% speaker in your professional setting so if you really want to get into it, I invite you to check that out.
The links to all these resources are in the description below the video. So question of the day, how do you recommend practicing your presentations that help you the most? I would love to hear your thoughts on what helps you in that section below the video.
I look forward to reading those comments. So thanks, God bless and I will see you soon.