Speech Rehearsal: Importance and Process

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  • 0:01 Why Is Rehearsing a…
  • 2:01 What's Speech…
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Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

Speech rehearsal is as important as writing the speech itself. It starts with a pre-rehearsal and then follows several steps. By following the process, you will have a winning speech.

Why Is Rehearsing a Speech Important?

Your boss calls you into his office one fine day and informs you that you … yes, you! … are delivering a speech to the entire company about a new policy change. Yikes! You've never done this before. So many things run through your mind.

Don't get ahead of yourself. First things first. Of course, start by gathering the facts. Draft your speech and proofread it carefully.

Simple enough, right? Wrong! This is just one part of giving an amazing speech. The next thing to consider is delivery. If you choose to read your speech right from the pages it was written on, you probably will do fine.

However, that may bore your audience terribly. To make it interesting, you may want to be a bit more animated and conversational. For that, rehearsal is necessary. This means practicing your speech either alone or to a mock audience. And by the way, the plant on your desk qualifies as an audience.

You may be thinking, 'I really don't need to practice my speech. I pretty much know everything about this policy change.' Not so fast, cowboy! Knowing the information is good. But practice makes perfect, and here's why:

  • You can practice your public speaking skills to determine what works best.
  • You can practice more difficult parts of your speech to ease the delivery.
  • You can use the feedback from your mock audience to make improvements.

Keep in mind anything can go wrong in front of a live audience. Nerves, audience reaction to your statements, lighting, room temperature - virtually anything can change your overall mood and lower your confidence.

Speech rehearsal is all about practice. As you rehearse your speech, think about a few things:

  • Does my opening line fit into the speech?
  • Am I making logical transitions?
  • Are my pauses in the right place?
  • Do my visuals make sense?
  • Is my conclusion strong?

So how do you make sure you covered all of that? First, decide on your delivery method. Let's see how this is done.

What's Speech Rehearsal All About?

Start with a pre-rehearsal of your speech. This is where you decide the method of delivery for your speech. You see, before you can even begin to practice, you must determine the best way to deliver, or present, your speech. Here are a few methods to choose from:

You may choose a manuscript delivery that involves reading the speech as it is written. Another way you can go is the extemporaneous method. This means using note cards as a guide, but keeping the speech more conversational. Memorizing, or remembering the entire speech, is yet one more option.

Whichever delivery option you choose, you will still need to practice. The process of rehearsing a speech is really quite simple. In fact, it flows more like a set of tips. So let's explore the process of rehearsing a speech.

Step 1: Read Your Speech Aloud

The first step is read your speech aloud. This can be done by reading your speech to a few friends or to yourself. Even if you choose the manuscript method, you will still need to read the speech aloud to determine whether every word flows, makes sense and follows the main point.

Step 2: Watch Yourself

Next step, watch yourself either in front of a mirror or on video. These days, it is pretty simple to film anything with a smartphone. Replay the video a few times. Look and listen for things you do that may distract your audience, like:

  • Twirling your hair
  • Speaking way too fast
  • Holding your cheat sheet too close to your face
  • Using 'umm,' 'urr,' 'duh' at pauses
  • Not pausing at all
  • No eye contact
  • Talking too low or mumbling
  • Disorganization

Step 3: Fix What Went Wrong

Once you previewed yourself, take the third step to fix the things you did wrong. You can do this in a few ways:

  • Adjust speech rate
  • Hone in on diction
  • Check your breathing
  • Assess vocal tone
  • Monitor body language

Speech rate is the pace of your speech. Listen for the speed in which you are talking. Too fast and you may lose the audience. Too slow and they may fall asleep. With enough practice, you will find the right speed.

The audience should understand you. This is where diction comes in. It is the style of enunciation you choose. Speak with a clear, sharp tongue. Speaking of that, also avoid tongue twisters. This is no time to recite 'Sally sells seashells by the seashore.'

Oh, and don't forget to breathe during your speech. And by breathe, I mean take time to pause. Nothing distracts the audience more than when a speaker faints on stage.

Vocal tones refers to the variety of tones used in your speaking. There should be a fluctuation of your voice. Use an energetic voice when you want your audience to get excited. A somber voice works when you want them to reflect.

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