There isn’t a more accurate phrase than “practice makes perfect.” No one (and I mean NO ONE) is a perfect public speaker right off the bat. You might have on-stage charisma but forget crucial elements of your speech, or you might be as well-researched as they come but lack the confidence to deliver your insights in an impactful manner.
Whatever your shortcomings may be, there’s only one method for overcoming them. Yep, you guessed it – practice! But how can you get in the hours of practice you need before securing your first paid speaking opportunity?
Well, beyond speaking to yourself in the mirror, there are plenty of ways to get in some practical experience. So let’s run through ways you can practice and perfect your speaking craft.
Join and Participate in Your Local Toastmasters Chapter
Toastmasters is a non-profit organization that helps individuals develop their speaking skills through weekly meetings. These meetings are structured to provide quality time for members to practice their public speaking skills through various activities, including impromptu speaking, evaluations of presentations, and impromptu scene work.
Upon first glance at Toastmasters, it might seem like an intimidating place for introverts to practice public speaking. Even though it can be nerve-wracking to speak in front of others for the first time, the welcoming environment of Toastmasters is a perfect place to try out your skills in friendly and supportive surroundings.
If you want to learn more about joining your local chapter, I suggest reading my Toastmasters blog post.
Visit Local Associations To Give a Short Speech
No matter your industry, the chances are that there is a local association or group that would benefit from what you would have to say. From networking groups to neighborhood associations, giving shortened versions of your speeches and presentations to small groups can really build your confidence and iron out any kinks in your public speaking.
While you won’t often be paid, these speaking opportunities are a vital step in building your speaking skillset and should never be underestimated or disregarded.
Record Yourself Giving a Speech
Recording yourself is a key element of practicing public speaking. When upon a stage speaking, you are too close to objectively evaluate yourself. However, when watching or listening to a recording of your speech, you can more calmly pinpoint the areas you need to work on.
In fact, speaking in front of a camera is a great strategy to use when trying to get comfortable with getting on a stage and speaking in front of an audience. You still have the nerves of trying to get it right even though there might not be anybody there to watch you, making it an excellent practice activity.
Watch and Learn from Accomplished Public Speakers on Video
There are tons of videos of public speakers available online, from TED talks to speeches delivered by famous politicians and CEOs. These videos can be a great way to get a sense of what you need to accomplish in your presentations before stepping onto a stage in front of an audience of your own.
Look at their body gestures, posture, and the way in which they deliver their sentences. Do they ever pause? If so, how long for? What is it about them that makes them seem so comfortable on stage? These are all questions you can answer by watching experienced public speakers.
You can then take what you’ve learned and put it into your next practice session.
Practice Public Speaking Mentally Just as Much as Physically
A lot of the fear (or confidence) public speakers experience stems from their mental state on stage. That’s why it’s vital to practice your public speaking mentally just as much as you might physically.
For example, visualize giving a speech about the importance of improving employee communication at work. Try to imagine how your body will feel on stage. Do you feel confident and strong? Or do you feel nervous and unsure of yourself? If it’s the latter, try and dig into what is making you feel that way.
Maybe you feel nervous about the feedback you could receive from your audience. Try and work out why you don’t feel confident. If you’ve researched well and have the information you need to give a good speech, what is holding you back?
Whatever the issue might be, use your mental practice time to dig into it. And then, if necessary, fix the issue before going on stage.
Practice Makes Perfect When it Comes to Public Speaking – So Make Sure You Put The Time In
While speaking comes naturally to many of us, none of us are infallible. Whether it’s over-confidence or a lack of on-stage presence, we all have aspects we need to work on and improve before becoming an accomplished public speaker.
By following the tips laid out above, you can make sure that you practice enough to be 100% confident and comfortable on stage.
If you would like to learn more about becoming the best public speaker you can be, then head on over to our free Facebook group – Grow Your Speaking Biz, which is full of public speakers at every stage of their career. From newbies to seasoned pros, they are all in there swapping hints and tips and driving each other on.
So what are you waiting for? If you want to launch your speaking career, then make sure to join us over there!