Have you noticed how many of us will find any excuse for not rehearsing their delivery before a speech or presentation?
Rehearsing is as normal as breathing for experienced speakers, but for those who aren’t born show ponies it often feels awkward. Best avoided, even if what they’re going to say is largely scripted already.
Many adults have half-buried memories of being compelled to read aloud, or perform in some way in front of an audience, in junior school, or perhaps in college. Ever after, rehearsing or simply reading out loud becomes a disagreeable chore, never done out of choice.
The truth is that the voice is a tool, and a versatile one, but the human physiology that supports it – not least the brain – is complex, and the voice only performs well with custom and practice. Most of us aren’t addressing an audience of more than two or three people every day, so this is all the more reason why rehearsal matters.
The best place to start is by reading aloud what you’ve already prepared. It doesn’t have to be perfect, particularly if no one else is listening, just good enough! And if the actual space you’ll be speaking in for real isn’t readily available, then do it at your desk – or your backyard. But do it standing up. Make it real.
If it sounds good enough to you, do it again – and this time record it on your phone or video camera. Then review and critique it. You’re on your way to outstanding!
*Sign up here for my weekly insights on communication made human for business. On the same page, you can check out my short, online course for public speakers. The course includes a module on voice modulation where you’ll find some great exercises for developing this in your own time.
Peter Coë, June 3, 2022
Peter was a business journalist and BBC television news anchor for many years, and has nearly 30 years’ experience as a speaker trainer.