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3 Practice Tips for Giving Your First Speech

Whether you’re in an educational or professional setting, public speaking is a skill that plays a role in your growth and success. Throughout your career, you will have opportunities to share your ideas, results, and feedback with others. You want to be sure that in every speech you give, you are bringing your best. 

That said, public speaking can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. For those more introverted, sharing ideas out loud in front of people is scary. Yet, regardless of your personality type and experience level, anyone can give a good speech with practice. The following tips will help you develop your public speaking skills and become more confident on presentation day.

1. Record Yourself

It’s difficult to have self-awareness when it comes to public speaking. When practicing, you’re most likely focusing on the content and getting the facts right. While this is an important part of your speech, you also want to be aware of how you present physically and audibly. These aspects are easy to miss if there’s no audience, but there are ways to get this insight yourself. 

Before practicing your speech, set up a camera in front of you and start a video recording. After rehearsing, watch the recording and take notes on how you look and sound. By getting your presentation on video, you can easily catch mistakes that a grader or supervisor would notice. Reading off notes, for example, may not be evident when you’re doing it, but it will be obvious on camera. Pay attention to your posture, volume, and speed as well. Weaknesses in any of these areas may impact the reception of your speech.

When giving a virtual presentation, recording yourself can be equally as helpful. Use a screen recorder to capture your entire presentation on the video call platform. Afterward, review your eye contact, sound quality, and visual performance. You may also use this time to knock out any kinks caused by your internet or computer. Make sure that your background looks professional and omits any distractions. Perfecting these details will support your speech and professionalism. 

2. Leave Your Comfort Zone

Staying in your comfort zone will not help you improve in the areas you are least confident. For many, the audience is the scariest part of public speaking. In this case, it may fare well to practice in front of a small group of peers or colleagues. Ask your audience to take notes and give feedback at the end. Having this audience to rehearse with improves your comfort in speaking in front of people, making the process easier the day of.

Practicing without your notes is another good way to challenge yourself while preparing. Removing your notes from the equation may even make the process easier. If you rely on notes to remember important parts, you can easily get lost while reading bullet points. There is no need to have the presentation memorized word-for-word to share your message effectively. Giving your speech without notes relieves the pressure to get every sentence right and helps you feel more confident in the material.

Along with not looking at notes, you want to avoid focusing on your screen or slideshow. You may need that visual to help you move through the presentation, but challenge yourself not to read off the screen. This ensures you commit the most important facts to memory and support a better connection with the audience. After a few practice rounds, you’ll learn the timing of your slides without needing the visuals.

3. Prepare for the Setting

Running through your speech at home feels more comfortable than practicing at the office, classroom, or auditorium. You may want to rehearse where you feel most comfortable, but giving the speech on location will help you feel more confident the day of. By practicing on-site, you’ll familiarize yourself with the environment and any technology used there. This means you can practice moving in the space and prevent any last-minute surprises on presentation day.  

Another bonus to practicing outside of the home is the prevention of potential distractions. At home, it’s likely you’ll get distracted by family, roommates, or pets while working on your speech. Rehearsing at the location of your final speech gives you more control over the environment. Feeling the ambiance and visualizing the audience can enhance your confidence and adaptability too, ensuring you’re well-prepared for the actual moment. 

When asked to give a speech, it will most likely be in a meeting, conference, or educational setting. All of these scenarios have limitations with how long they expect their audience to be available, and they may have other speakers on the roster. For this reason, practicing with a timer helps you get a grip on your speed. It will determine if your speech is too long and prompt you to make the proper adjustments to end at an appropriate time. Your audience will appreciate your consideration of the schedule.

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice is not the most exciting activity, but it elevates your progress and ability to give a great speech. An engaging presentation will resonate with an audience and benefit you in the office or classroom. It’s worth the effort to improve your public speaking skills and give a great speech that leaves everyone thinking about it afterward.