Writing your speech is one thing—but performing it in front of others is another thing altogether. When you’ve written your speech, you may want to rehearse every inch of your performance. Just like acting, you need to think about a variety of things—the audience, your content, your emotions and the structure of your speech. This blog is all about preparation—let’s get to it!
Rehearse the Content
The first rehearsal is for the content. The first time, just try to get the words out. Don’t worry about what actors call ‘blocking’ — how you might move around. Just get the words out. Find out if anything needs to be changed or fixed. See how long it takes and how well the transitions work. Test it.
Audiences today expect speakers to do more than simply read from a script or PowerPoint slide deck. They expect a more intimate conversation. As a result, it pays for the speaker to know the basic logical flow of the speech — not the exact words, but the main points, in order. Ideally, that’s what a speaker has in his or her head when he/she bounds up on stage and begins to chat with the audience. Get the logic of the speech down in a bulleted outline, and practice that. Rehearse just running through that outline, as if it were a very brief explanation. Then, embellish it by adding your supporting facts, your stories, and so on. Work your way up to the whole speech.
Rehearse Your Conversation
Work on finding out how you’re going to stand, to move, and where during the speech you need to do what. Don’t worry so much about getting the words perfect, but do feel the speech as a dynamic production of your body. Ideally, you’ll have someone tape you, so you can see how you’re doing.
Many people don’t think they need to walk through a speech physically — I’ll just run through the points in my head — but you do need to rehearse. I can always tell someone who hasn’t rehearsed, because sooner or later you’ll catch that deer-in-the-headlights look as the speaker thinks to himself, “I didn’t see that coming.”
Rehearse the Emotions
Emotion is captivating. We like to watch it on TV, which is why so many people watch reality TV shows even though they know they shouldn’t. We praise great actors and singers because they are practiced emoters. We even elect former actors to be president because they’re able to look authentic doing what they do best: playing a part. Don’t overlook the emotions of a presentation or speech.
Videotape yourself or use a tape recorder if you’ll be speaking on radio, in a webinar, or on a conference call. You literally need to experience yourself as others will. Watch, listen, and work on the rough spots. A painful activity? It can be. Is it helpful? Always!
Today’s digital recording equipment makes this aspect of rehearsing easier and more mobile than ever before. Make use of it!
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