Five ways to practice public speaking

Public speaking is a daunting experience for many people, as it taps into many basic anxieties. However, as with most things, practice makes perfect and builds confidence, so here are five ways to hone your public speaking skills before your big presentation:

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1. Practice in front of a mirror

Most of the time, we have no idea what we look like when we are talking. However, a series of studies from 2014 found that our first impressions can override any other form of information we are subsequently presented with. Therefore, setting the right visual impression is in some ways more important than the contents of your speech.

2. Do a test run with friends

Doing a practice run with people you know will not only give a feel for the real thing in a more controlled setting, but you will be able to read your audience’s reactions to what you are saying. In addition, your audience will be able to give you honest advice on your performance and suggest improvements.

3. Make use of hidden opportunities

Whether you are talking about a work problem during a team meeting, or you are having a heartfelt conversation with your family, you are engaging in public speaking. You can use such everyday occurrences to reflect on whether or not what you said was received in the way you intended.

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4. Test some soundbites

A good motivational speaker like is able to speak naturally and with conviction about a topic. To do the same, you need to be comfortable with your subject matter and know the best way to get the message across. Take every opportunity to discuss your upcoming presentation, as you will present your speech slightly differently each time when you are not relying on your notes, so you will be able to get a feel for what combination of words works best.

5. Record yourself

While practising in front of a mirror allows you to see how you present yourself to an audience from a visual point of view, making a recording of yourself gives you the chance to analyse how you come across when you talk – maybe you say ‘umm’ too much, or you talk way too fast. Best of all, you can compare different recordings to find out what improvements work best.

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