You have a big speech coming up, so you decide that you need to practice.
Good thinking. The more times you run through a speech, the more comfortable you will feel on the day.
However there is one crucial thing to do when you practice a speech: practice it all the way through. From start to finish.
If you find yourself forgetting pieces, stopping mid-sentence and starting over, this will cause you to program these small interruptions into your speech as well. On the day your brain will mostly depend on the physical memory of practice so if the small breaks and stops are ‘practiced’ they will come out in performance as well.
When you start practicing the speech, imagine people sitting in front you, their eyes fixed on you. Set yourself a timer if you can, and go through the speech from start to finish.
Even if you make a mistake in the practice, just keep going. This will help your mind to smooth out the edges when you are on stage.
A great tip that I’ve found helps is to record your speech on your phone. You can put your headphones on so the mic picks up your voice clearly, and it also makes you keep going even if you make a mistake.
Sometimes people ask if it is okay to practice with notes. The answer is yes, and no.
The first few times you run through a speech, you might like to have prompt notes in your hands. These are the key phrases that will prompt the next section of your speech.
But as you practice the speech more than five times, try putting the notes aside and doing it from memory. This will help you depend on your practice to recall the next section, and will train your brain to remember better.
Practice is a key piece of the performance. A week of daily practice will boost your confidence hugely by the time the speech day comes around.
You will thank yourself when you are up there speaking in front of a real audience that you invested the time in practice.