How to Practice Public speaking
Public speaking is one of the scariest things ever. It’s at the top of any list of the most feared events. That’s because there are so many ways for it to be a complete disaster. From forgetting your lines or tripping over your words, public speaking can make anyone feel anxious. Here we’ll go over some important tips to help you prepare and practice public speaking.
Preparation is key when it comes to public speaking. The next time you give a speech, consider these four questions:
- Who will be in the audience? What are their needs, interests, and level of expertise?
- Where will you be speaking? Is the space comfortable, or do you need to make special arrangements for yourself and your audience?
- What do you want to say — and how can you say it most effectively? Rehearsing your speech enables you to deliver it smoothly. And if possible, anticipate questions from the audience so that you can answer them clearly and completely.
Engage with the audience.
The key to building rapport with your audience is to engage them in conversation. Here are some conversation tips:
- Speak in your natural voice and at a normal pace.
- Make eye contact with audience members.
- Pause for two to three seconds between sentences.* Get a sense of what the audience is thinking by asking questions during the presentation and giving them time to ask questions after you’ve finished speaking.
- Be sure to ask for feedback from your listeners on how you did, which will also help you understand their needs better.
Stand up straight.
It’s hard to understate the importance of this. Not only does it help you project confidence, but good posture is also essential for breathing properly—and therefore for projecting your voice loud enough to be heard by everyone in the audience.
Finally, assuming a comfortable and open position can help you avoid back pain, which can become quite noticeable if you’re standing for long periods of time.
Practice, practice, and practice.
By now you know that practice is key. The more familiar you are with your material, the more confident and relaxed you will feel when presenting. That said, don’t beat yourself up about it if you haven’t had time to be fully prepared.
Sometimes life gets in the way, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But, if possible, try to get as much practice in as possible before your presentation day.
This is especially helpful when practicing with audience members because they can help point out areas where you may stumble or forget what comes next. Be sure to take those pauses into account!
Know your material well.
It’s important to be familiar with the material you are presenting. The more comfortable and confident you feel, the less nervous you will appear. Here are a few techniques that can help:
- Read your presentation out loud several times before the big day. As you practice, make note of places where the flow is awkward or when your words sound stilted.
- Practice in front of a mirror or video camera so that you can see how your body language comes across to other people.
- Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues and friends. What works? Where might there be room for improvement?
Finally, it’s critical to be prepared in case there are questions from the audience.
Your answers should reflect an understanding of all key concepts related to your presentation topic and show that you have taken into account various points of view about it.
Memorize your speech.
Memorizing your speech is not recommended. Generally speaking, public speakers should be aware of the material they are discussing, but memorization can make you sound stiff and unnatural.
The best way to make sure that you know what you’ll be saying during your presentation is to write down bullet points for each paragraph so you’ll know where each topic begins and ends. You may want to use note cards or a teleprompter as a guide when practicing.
This will help ensure that you don’t forget any of the important aspects that you want to be included in your speech while allowing room for improvisation and spontaneity during the actual speech.
Record yourself speaking and watch it back.
If you want to improve your public speaking, the best thing to do is record yourself speaking and then watch it back.
Recording your speech and watching it back will allow you to see any bad habits or tics that distract from your speech. You can look out for fillers such as “ah” and “um” (you’ll be saying a lot of them) as well as other distracting habits you might have.
Once you know what bad habits you have, then you can work on eliminating them by recording your speech again and trying to improve yourself.
If possible give your presentation in front of friends or family before the big day.
If you don’t have a lot of experience with public speaking, you should try practicing in front of an audience before the big day. If possible, ask friends or family to watch your practice run to provide feedback. You can learn from your mistakes and arrange another practice session if necessary.
Practicing in front of others will also boost your confidence and help you avoid stage fright on the big day.
Having someone present while you practice may seem awkward at first, but getting used to being watched is crucial if you want a smooth performance later on.
When presenting in front of a large audience, it’s important to know what they expect from their speaker. By practicing in front of people, you’ll be able to gauge their reactions so that you can adjust your presentation accordingly.
Don’t speak too fast.
Speaking is a lot like music. Just as musicians need to be mindful of the rhythm and pace of their performance, speakers must do the same.
To ensure your delivery is as effective as possible, don’t speak too fast—you’ll lose your audience. And don’t speak too slow—audiences will get bored or think you aren’t confident in what you have to say. You should strive for a moderate pace that feels natural.
If you feel yourself speeding up or slowing down, take a deep breath and try to regain control over your cadence.
In order to make sure your speed is appropriate for the audience, practice speaking in front of a mirror or video camera before your speech and ask friends or family members if they think it sounds natural and engaging—and whether your speed adds emphasis where necessary.
Public speaking is challenging but practice can help you get better at it
Imagine yourself standing in front of a large audience. You’ve got to give a speech and it’s your first time. Wouldn’t you want as many friends and family members as possible to be able to hear and understand you?
That is the same feeling most people experience when they are giving a public presentation. How can people see that you know what you’re talking about?
How do they know that you aren’t just spouting off random nonsense?
It’s true that we do naturally feel hesitant to go up in front of an audience, but the good news is that we don’t have to worry about it for long. In fact, the longer we take to practice, the more comfortable we’ll become with speaking in front of others.
Even if we don’t feel so great about our presentation skills yet, practicing will help us learn how to get rid of any nerves we have around public speaking which in turn will make us better speakers overall.
Public speaking requires a lot of practice. And you will never get good at it if you don’t put in that practice. If you’re struggling to improve your public speaking skills, or if you’ve just started out and want to know how to go about practicing, we hope the above tips can help.