I don’t know about you but I personally dislike preparing for a speech. I find it boring.
Nevertheless! I do always prepare for a speech. And so I want to share with you the 4 steps I take to prepare for a speech. These steps will get you feeling empowered to deliver your best speech.
Some of the steps you will be familiar with. But hold tight, because a couple of them may be new to you.
1st Step – Planning Stage
As the saying goes by Benjamin Franklin, “if you don’t plan, you plan to fail”.
Therefore, depending of the length of the speech, spend 20/40 minutes on the planning stage.
Write out all your ideas and then separate them into three sections: beginning, middle and end. You may end up writing 2-3 drafts before you have your final piece.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up with a whole novel that needs to be trimmed, before you can even think about forming a beginning, middle and end….Tough times!
2nd Step - Practice
The next step is to practice about 10-20 times. Practice both in front of an audience and alone with a timer.
Get feedback from your practice audience and make the necessary changes. Then practice more, until you no longer need to stare at your notes.
I love this quote: “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent”. Bobby Robson et al.
I love it because it means that you don’t need to be perfect. To me there is no such thing as a perfect speech. One person may view your speech as perfect and another may view it as incomplete. It’s all subjective. And so don’t focus on being perfect. Instead focus on being an expert of your speech, to the point where it simply shines out of you.
3rd Step – Warm up Your Voice
This is something I enjoy doing because it puts me in a funny mode. When you try this (if you haven’t already), you’ll chuckle at the funny noises you never knew you could make.
Watch this presentation for instructions on how to warm up your voice:
I warm up my voice approximately 10/20 minutes before I go on stage. Warming up your voice allows you to set a more powerful and smoother tone. It also helps you manage your nerves because you’re focusing of getting ready to present, as oppose to worrying about how your delivery could turn out.
4th Step – Manage your Nerves
Talking about managing our nerves, we have all experienced being nerves before and during the delivery of a speech (if you haven’t then you’re not normal : ).
Yet there is a very helpful strategy you can use to manage your nerves, rather than your nerves managing you.
The key is the use visualisation. Close your eyes and see yourself delivering your speech in the way you want to deliver it. For example, see yourself speaking on stage in a confident manner.
I personally take it as far as seeing myself make a mistake and gracefully continuing with confidence.
Doing such visualisation, tells your mind and body how it is you want to feel and perform on stage.
As you visualise, take in all the positive feelings and thoughts, magnify them and picture yourself performing with conviction. This will greatly calm your nerves because you are focusing on a positive outcome, rather than worrying about your performance.
Once it’s time to deliver your speech, your mind and body will naturally perform in a similar manner as when you were visualising.
Visualisation takes practice. Especially if you dislike giving speeches.
Nevertheless, I highly recommend it. It will help you move out of your own way to showcase the best version of yourself.
Remember, we are not trying to be ‘perfect’. Just be yourself (faults and all). Your authenticity is what will draw the audience to you.
I’d like to leave you with a quick and effective tip that also helps manage nerves. Each time I’m about to go on stage I say to myself “just try your best. If you mess up it’s absolutely fine. Learn from it and don’t forget to laugh about it”.
This thought process allows me to be my own cheerleader. It also helps me to not take it too seriously.
Then paradoxically, I end up delivering my speeches just as I had visualised (most of the time)!
So give these steps a go and let me know how you get on. I’d love to know!
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All the very best on your Toastmasters journey!
Empowerment Coach & Confidence Specialist