Preparation and Practice

Preparing in advance for a speech gives you the confidence you need to deliver an excellent speech. Take plenty of time before the speech day to prepare, brainstorm ideas for the speech, develop an outline and practice out loud. Avoid procrastination and develop a schedule to prep for the speech. Time management in the preparation process is crucial.

Brainstorm topics that are relevant to the speech type, to you and to your audience. Be creative during the brainstorming phase, don’t worry about coming up with concrete ideas, but rather just explore your thoughts and ideas. As you begin to develop an idea into an outline, be intentional. Pay attention to who it is you are going to be talking to, ask yourself what you already know about your audience. Use the information you gather to create a speech that is still unique and true to who you are, but that is sensitive to your audience also. An effective public speaker considers their audience during all aspects of the speech making process. After you have fully fleshed out your ideas – your introduction, with an attention grabber, your main points, with transitions, and your conclusion – prepare a speaking outline that gives you brief bullet points to reference during your speech.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly prepare for your speech by performing it out loud. Whether that be to yourself, your dog, your family or your CALL mentor, the value of presenting your ideas and speech out loud cannot be dismissed. When you practice your speech out loud you begin to develop a flow and you gain confidence as you familiarize yourself with your speech. Practice more than once, I always like to start by practicing my speech out loud to myself, and then after I feel familiar with the flow of my speech, I like to practice in front of someone else. Presenting your speech to others, while prepping to give the final product, provides a time in which someone else can listen and provide you with any feedback that may be useful. Therefore, preparing in advance for your speech gives you the added confidence you need to present the final product.

Using Your Nerves

Nerves are a natural experience when it comes to public speaking. In fact, for many people it is even a phobia. But a certain degree of nerves can actually be used to fuel your speech. Take advantage of the anxiety you feel by using it to prepare in advance. Acknowledge your nerves, think about why you are feeling nervous and realize that you are probably not the only one in the room feeling that way.

I love the rush of getting up in front of an audience and giving a speech that I have prepared, but it is exactly that to me, an adrenaline rush. I often tell people, public speaking is way for me to step outside my comfort zone in a way that feels safe. I still feel anxious, my heart rate accelerates, my hands get shaky and my voice is always a little weaker to start with, but its all part of the experience and no matter how much I present speeches publicly, I still feel these things each and every time. So how do I use my anxiety and nerves to fuel my speech? I acknowledge the fact that they exist and I have to remind myself that I am not the only person who feels this way, most people will. Then, I use my nerves to prepare; I don’t want to show up on the day of the speech feeling unprepared, because that only intensifies my anxieties. I leave plenty of time to come up with my topic, prepare a small outline and practice, practice, practice. I often find myself running over the speech in my head whenever I have time, like when I am getting ready for the day in the morning, and then, I proceed to practice out loud to myself. Finally, I begin to familiarize myself with presenting to an audience by practicing with my family or friends, or whoever is willing to listen. By using my anxiety and nerves about presenting the speech, I prepare myself more fully in advance and am less likely to procrastinate.

When it comes to the day of the speech, as I said above, my body is showing all signs of nervousness. However, I cannot stress the importance of remembering that you are not alone in feeling this way. I often stress over whether or not those who are listening will judge me or my abilities, but I like to remind myself of how I respond when someone else is speaking, because this is probably the same way your audience is responding to you and I have found that, to me, this makes giving the speech much less intimidating. Your audience is probably just as supportive as you are when sitting and listening to another’s presentation. So don’t worry about feeling nervous whenever you hear that you will be giving a speech, but rather, embrace it, and let your nerves fuel you and your speech.

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