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How to Rehearse a Speech

It's essential to know how to rehearse effectively. A speech rehearsal involves practice, preparation, organization and confidence. Some people like to repeat a speech 5+ times before delivering it. Others prefer to 'wing it' and rely on their skills and confidence. Each approach has its merit. In this post I'll share what I've found to be effective guidelines for rehearsing a speech.

First, I advocate practicing the day and/or morning before your speech. I've noticed that for many students over-rehearsal can increase speaking anxiety and result in 'psyching' them out. When you rehearse more than a day or two before a speech it's likely that the material won't stay in your memory.

Second, it's imperative that you have strong and clear notes. Speech organization and clarity is key. Whatever else you've prepared, when you know your thesis and main points you cannot forget the material. You may not remember the exact phrasing you planned or a quote may elude you but as long as you have good organization you'll stay on track.

Third, formally practice your speech once. More may help but is often impractical. Additional rehearsal time can involve contemplating your speech in the shower, while driving or when you're getting dressed. But formally rehearsing your speech more than once can waste precious time and can increase public speaking anxiety. An athlete wouldn't exhaust themselves the day of their event. Similarly rehearsing just once saves your nerves for the main event. Your primary rehearsal should also be recorded for you to review. Seeing and hearing yourself speak strengthens the material in your mind. It also allows you to observe and self-critique your performance.

It's important to know that rehearsing a speech is multifaceted.'Winging it' may work well for a few expert or extremely charming individuals. For the rest of us, effective rehearsal can be an essential part in giving the best speech possible. To recap: 1.) Practice the day before or the morning of your speech 2.) Clearly organize your thoughts before hand 3.) Participate in one final recorded rehearsal. I hope each of these ideas help you to improve your speaking performance through the power of effective rehearsal.