The best advice about public speaking you don't want to hear

I have met clients who have spent hours on their speeches and presentations.  And when I ask if they have started rehearsing the speech out loud, the answer is almost always: not yet.

For most people, the first time they say their speech out loud is when they are up on the stage!

My advice is this: you will never give a great speech without proper rehearsal.

And I mean proper rehearsal

Reading over your script is not the same as rehearsing.

Saying the speech in your head is not rehearsing properly. 

Proper rehearsal involves finding an empty room and saying the speech out loud exactly as you plan to say it on the night.  

When you hear your words actually coming out of your mouth, you will suddenly identify dozens of mistakes and improvements you would otherwise have missed. 

When I rehearse. I inevitably find myself analysing my script in a new way:

  • This joke hasn't been properly set up
  • This sentence is confusing
  • Can I transition between points more clearly?
  • Should I just rip out his section?

This is the difference between a good speaker and a great speaker.  They are not necessarily more gifted at speaking, but they have rehearsed it to perfection.  

So why don't people practice more?

Despite the obvious benefits of rehearsing properly, most people choose to put it off for any number of reasons:

  • It feels really silly talking out loud
  • Someone might catch them talking to themselves
  • They assume assume no one else rehearses so it isn't necessary
  • It real really feels silly talking out loud

Yes it does feel silly.  But surly the risk of making mistakes up on stage should outweigh the inconvenience of feeling a bit silly!

So much of the anxiety about public speaking is driven from the fear of the unknown.  The unknown of how the audience will react.  The unknown of how you will perform.  

However, when you have rehearsed - properly rehearsed - so many of these fears go away simply because you have confidence in your material.


Posted on January 11, 2014 .