Five Things to Do Before Your Speech

Five Things to Do Before Your Speech

You have written your big speech and have it all rehearsed for TOMORROW. Is there anything else you can do to ensure you give the best version of your speech? Why yes!

1. Rehearse (a maximum) of three times: Either the night before or the morning of, (depending on your schedule), you may wish to go through your speech again. I would recommend three times, maximum. This will allow you to feel like you are prepared but ensure you will not suffer burn-out due to excessive rehearsals. Assuming you’ve been practicing regularly until this point, this will keep the speech “fresh”. Any adrenaline kicks you feel in front of the audience will help you push your speech one step further.

2. Do some karaoke and a crazy dance: I do a lot of (horrible) singing in the car as I drive to the event location. What began as a way to calm my nerves helped me realize was a great way to warm up my vocal chords. As a result, it felt ten times easier to project my voice. I would recommend doing vocal exercises, and/or engaging in some karaoke before your speech. Sing in an octave that is comfortable to you; your goal is to warm up your voice, not damage it.

I still suffer from jelly legs before a speech. A great way for me to cope is to listen to a fast paced dance song and do a crazy “I-don’t-care-who-is-watching-me-flail-around” dance. While you don’t have to flail, I would highly recommend some light stretching and exercise to warm up if you are prone to the nervous jitters.

3. Arrive early: Budget your trip to include time to find parking, especially if have never been there before. If there is a sound check, use that time to get acquainted with how your voice sounds over the microphone. If you don’t have sound check, still come early to survey your surroundings. Figure out where you will enter and exit. Work out the stage dimensions and make any mental last minute adjustments. Most importantly, take a moment to stand there and imagine what the room will be like with a packed audience. This will help ease any sudden surprises you may feel when you stand on the stage and realize: there are multiple pairs of eyes staring back at me!

4. Use the facilities (at least) once: Earlier this year, during one of the Toastmasters’ International Speech/Evaluation contests, a fellow Toastmaster and friend was set to compete. I believe he had planned to go to the washroom during the break (right before his contest) BUT at the last minute the contest orders were changed. Long story short, he competed while doing the mental bathroom dance. While he was a superb speaker and was not outwardly affected, it is never fun to have that thought running through your mind. Moral of the story: use the washroom once, or even twice, before the event is set to begin.

5. Take sips of water: Nerves may leave you with a dry mouth and a dry throat; I know it does for me. While you may not want to drink litres of water before you are set to give your speech (to avoid said bathroom dance mentioned under Rule #4), it is highly advised you take regular sips of water to avoid feeling like your mouth has suddenly become the Sahara Desert. That way, you will be able to get up onto the stage and give your speech without sounding like a “tsk-ing” grandma.

Find Your Paperclip: Dealing With Last Minute Nerves

Find Your Paperclip: Dealing With Last Minute Nerves

This post is written by Vivien Ip

You have spent countless hours preparing and rehearsing your speech. You know the words so well you recite them in your sleep. One last thing still sends chills up and down your spine: how will the audience react?

Is there a way one can get over last minute jitters?

Many years ago I watched the movie Maid in Manhattan, and saw the tip to have a paperclip (or multiple) in your hand to help you deal with your public speaking nerves. Personally I am against following this tip to the letter. Unless you are sure your entire speech will be done behind a podium, lectern, or in any situation where you can have a closed fist at all times, you will invariably need natural and purposeful hand gestures.

Last minute jitters surfaced when I was hammering out my Humorist Speech back in 2012 (a speech that would end up taking me all the way to the top spot in my province). I knew the words, I knew my speech, but I was still nervous about the audience’s reception. I went in search of my own “paperclip”, and I would encourage you to think of these criteria if you want to find a paper clip of your own.

1) Remember what it is NOT: I am not asking you to find a lucky charm or anything else that makes you falsely believe a miracle will happen, just because you have it nearby. Great speeches take a lot of preparation and rehearsal time. Great speakers do not form overnight. Wearing your lucky socks while presenting a speech you haven’t rehearsed once, will likely not give you the result you were hoping for.

2) Choose practically: Please consider the size and nature of your “paperclip”. It must be something that fits into your pocket or is a piece of jewelry/clothing/accessory you can wear easily. It must not attract attention away from your speech and must give you the freedom to move comfortably. It must be something that is not so easily deciphered by the audience as the paperclip; think of it as your own little secret confidence booster.

3) Choose for the meaning: Every time I did my speech I wore the same necklace, a birthday present from my parents in high school. Although my mother did not particularly like the design, she bought it anyway because she knew I would like it. Although my parents have questioned my sanity and decision making skills more than once (mostly during my teenage years), their support has never wavered. The necklace became my reminder of that support, and it calmed me to know my parents would always have my back.

I would encourage the paperclip be chosen for the positive story it represents. Did you have a relative or a friend always believe in you? Did they give you a memento like an old pin or made up a quote that has really resonated with you? Use that as your paperclip and a source of inner support.

How to Be a Speaker: Have confidence in your speech and the hard work you have put into it. To give yourself an extra mental boost, choose a “paperclip” that reminds you about someone or something that has been a source of support in your life.


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