Practising Your Speech – how much is enough?

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Working with a client this week during an individual coaching session, we were putting the finishing touches on a 5 minute speech he was preparing for a formal family celebration dinner. Ed had written a script which we first edited to create a logical flow; we then worked on humour, pacing and engaging delivery methods. I ended the session by suggesting that he practise the speech at least 5 times before the big night, just over a week away.

Ed was astonished.

He had never considered practising his speech – let alone my suggestion of a minimum of 5 times – to be important. Remember that this is a 5 minute speech, so while he’d need to find some time, hopefully it wouldn’t be an overwhelming task!

Ed’s surprise made me reflect after he’d left on ways in which practice had been embedded in my life as a Classical musician from early childhood; and how essential it was before facing an audience. Practising a piece of music 100-200 times or more isn’t unusual before an important concert! While a speech obviously doesn’t need the same level of precision as a music score, practising – aloud – at least a few times is very important.

Why? Because when you do this, you’ll be a long way ahead of most other presenters who haven’t found the necessary time or focus – you’ll stand out. You’ll feel more confident and have more control. If you’d like to read a little about the neuro-science of practice, here’s a previous article I wrote last year on the topic.

So, to sum up:

Practise. Aloud. At least 5 times or until you feel as if the content is familiar and flows as naturally as possible from your brain and mouth.

I’d love to know what your experience of practice has been! Feel free to comment below.

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'9 Boxes' Planning & Structure Template for an Impactful Presentation

Includes: Content 'type' suggestions / Walkthrough of my own example / Empty grid for your own use ______________________________________________ “Sarah has developed some very practical tools to help people learn and develop presentation skills. As someone who appreciates structure, having a template structure to work from and adapt is very helpful indeed.” - Chad Irons, GM, ACC International Relief

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