They say that practice makes perfect, and that’s certainly true for public speaking. And while there are plenty of activities and exercises that you can try out at home, nothing can make up for getting up on a stage and talking to people.
But it’s not always easy to find those opportunities, so where is it best for you to look, and what can you do to secure more chances to practice your public speaking? Let’s jump in and take a look.
In the mirror
This is one of the oldest tricks in the public speaking playbook, but it’s survived the test of time due to the fact that it’s so useful. If you practice giving your talks in front of a mirror, you can keep a close eye on your body language and your delivery, and you can learn from your mistakes without anyone else being aware that you ever made them. It can’t make up for practicing in front of a live audience, though.
In front of friends and family
Practicing your speeches in front of friends and family can be a good idea because they’re likely to be welcoming and polite, though they might not be too interested in the subject matter. It’s an easy way of getting a little practice without the stakes being too high, but it’s one that you’ll want to do sparingly. Otherwise, you’ll quickly get a reputation amongst your loved ones and they’ll be too scared to stop by for dinner in case you force them to listen to you again.
At online events
Speaking at online events is very different to speaking in public, but a lot of the same rules still apply. You’ll still want to be direct and to the point and to tap into common public speaking tips and tricks such as using the rule of three. At the same time, you won’t be able to see all of your audience (unless you’re speaking to a small group), and many of the visual cues that you’d tap into when speaking publicly will no longer be available to you.
Schools can provide great opportunities to practice public speaking, whether you’re delivering a guest lesson or whether you’re talking to your child’s class and telling them what you do. If you have the opportunity to host assembly and to talk to the entire school, you can put yourself in a position where you’re talking to literally hundreds of people. Plus, they’ll be children, which means that the pressure is off – and also that any feedback you receive will at least be honest.
At a toastmasters’ club
Toastmasters is a global non-profit that runs events all over the world with the goal of helping people to practice and perfect their public speaking skills. They operate clubs all over the globe, with a particularly strong presence in their mother country of the United States. To get started, you just need to check out their events listings and look for a club near you that you can start attending. You’ll be practicing your public speaking in no time.
Most workplaces have occasional opportunities for people to practice public speaking, even if it’s only to present findings at a team meeting or to talk about something that you’re passionate about as part of a show and tell. Many of these opportunities are voluntary, and so if you want to practice your public speaking then you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and take advantage of any that come your way.
One of the easiest and most accessible ways to practice your public speaking is to film yourself and put the footage up on YouTube. The downside is that it doesn’t involve speaking in front of a live audience, which is the kind of practice that can help you the most. On the plus side, you can upload your video footage and wait for the feedback to roll in. Although unless you’re lucky enough to go viral, you might be disappointed by how few people actually tune in. Once you have an audience, however, you can schedule live streams, either on YouTube or on Twitch, which overcome these restrictions.
At the library
When most of us picture a library, we think about a sour-faced librarian putting their fingers to their lips and whispering, “Shh.” It’s easy to forget that many libraries offer a program of free events and are constantly on the lookout for people to come in and talk to their communities. Consider reaching out to your local library and seeing if they have any opportunities available for you to practice your public speaking.
With a Udemy Course
Udemy is an online education provider that allows people to create courses in which they share their expertise. Creating a Udemy course can be a great way to practice your presentation skills and to perfect the art of imparting information, but it does have some of the same drawbacks that you’ll get from presenting for YouTube recorded videos.
At the pub
Okay, so the pub might not be the most professional of settings, but it does provide you with the perfect opportunity to talk at length about something you’re passionate about. Public speaking has a remarkable amount in common with talking to a group of friends, most notably that both involve storytelling. Of course, spending every night at the pub can quickly turn you into an alcoholic, so take this tip as you should consume your alcohol – in moderation.
Now that you know a few of the best places for you to practice public speaking, it’s over to you so that you can put what you’ve learned into practice. You can get started by ranking each of these ideas in terms of priority and slowly working your way through the list.
And as always, we’d love to hear from you, so be sure to share your experience in the comments and to let us know what’s worked for you so that we can keep the discussion going. We’ll see you soon for another article!