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5 reasons why you have to REHEARSE your speech or presentation

In my coaching sessions for public speaking there is the recurring topic of presentation rehearsal. I usually ask my clients how often they practice their speech, do they time it, do they already rehearse it exactly the way they are going to deliver it or just roughly? The reason why I ask this is that proper practice is key to boosting your confidence. No practice adds a risk to the already very unsure turnout of your presentation or speech. If you haven't rehearsed what you are going to say to your audience, you have to still think about it while you are already doing it! This takes away a lot of energy and can make you seem unprofessional, insecure and/or unable to engage with your audience. Scared enough yet? Good, here are reasons why you should take up the habit of rehearsing:
  1. Time-Management. In 99% of the cases you are speaking publicly, you will have a time limit. Regardless of how much time you have exactly – you have to manage it. If you want to encourage people to engage and ask questions you have to plan that in (and then make sure they also stick to your time limit!). If you have a certain amount of slides or topics that you want to cover, you have to make sure that you have covered ALL of them within the time frame given to you with a few minutes to spare for questions. If your time is up and you still have several slides to show, you will stress and start talking really fast. People will leave with the impression that they didn't get all the information and all you can do is apologize at the end, saying there was more, but there was not time...
    → Action: you don't want to leave this kind of messy impression, do you? So before your next public speaking event, time yourself so you know exactly how much time you can spend on each point in your speech.

  2. Unnecessary information. We all have had that experience that we prepare something and then when we actually present it to someone, we realize that some of the information was either at the wrong place, in the wrong order or not specific enough to be really useful. This is really not a problem, because preparing a presentation is a bit of a trial and error game. But it becomes a HUGE problem, when we realize this while we are already in front of an audience and everybody is watching us. If you don't mind coming off as the crazy professor, then that's fine. But if you want to come off as professional, efficient and straight to the point – this is a problem.
    → Action: Rehearse your next presentation out loud 10 times, so you pay attention to whether the order of your slides makes sense, whether all the information is really necessary or whether you have forgotten something really important.

  3. Too much in your head. When we are thinking of what we are going to say, we are very much occupied by our own thoughts. We focus on our arguments, on the next point, on what it was again that was really important on this particular slide. We cannot focus on what do do with our hands or whether our body is in a comfortable position exuding confidence. When we haven't rehearsed what we were going to say, we also cannot give our energy to our audience. We are too focused on ourselves and on our topic to engage with the people sitting in front of us.
    → Action: Rehearse your presentation, so your brain remembers what you want to say and goes on auto pilot on the day of your presentation. It thereby leaves you energy to focus on your body language, your audience and be prepared for possible interventions.

  4. Smoothness of your voice. Since I am a voice coach, I help my clients deliver their speeches with their best voice possible. Your best voice is when you know exactly what you are going to say. Then you have the right pace , put the emphasis on all the words that matter and make pauses where they are necessary, so your audience can digest the information you are giving them. You cannot project your voice still being unclear about what words will come out of your mouth exactly. Imagine a singer or actor going on stage without rehearsing the songs or the play they were about to deliver. It would probably not be their best work.
    → Action: When you are giving a speech or holding a presentation, you are very much like a performer. People look at you, listen to you and (hopefully) pay full attention to what you are saying. So in order to sound smooth and winning, give your voice the chance to get familiar with the content of your speech beforehand.

  5. Confidence. This is the whole reason I do what I do. I want people to feel confident when they are stepping in front of their audience and I want them to be in control of their nerves. I am sure you are reading this article, because confidence is a slight issue for you when it comes to public speaking. It is for almost everyone, for me too. If I don't rehearse my speech or presentation, I will come off as a lot more insecure than I want to. Since we are always nervous before stepping in front of an audience, there are things we can do to make us feel more secure. One of them is to know exactly what we are going to say, how we are going to say it and when.
    → Action: If you want to feel more confident about public speaking, rehearse your speech or presentation several times OUT LOUD before the day you are going to hold it. I would say 10 times is a good amount, depending on how scared you are (the more scared, the more often you need to practice). Video-taping yourself will also help you to feel more secure, because you will already know what you sound and look like.
I know that with so little time on our hands and other more exiting things to do, rehearsing is not really on the Top 10 list of our favorite things. But it is SO IMPORTANT! If I haven't stressed it enough yet: REHEARSE!!! and you will feel much more confident the next time you step in front of an audience. I promise! You can also check out this interesting TED Talk by Dr. Laura Sicola where she also talks about the importance of rehearsing before a public speaking event.

I hope these tips were useful. If you would like to get more tips like these or tried them out, please let me know. You can also subscribe to my newsletter, like my facebook page or read my other blog posts on tips about voice training and feeling confident as a public speaker. You can even join one of my workshops or sign up for individual coaching. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sonja Nannan




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