I know how hard it is to make time to practice. Here are some challenges I hear from my clients:
- Everything in my work and my personal life is last-minute. I’m constantly putting out the closest fire to me.
- We are constantly asked to do more with less resources. How am I going to find time to practice?
- From the moment I arrive at work until the moment I leave, my day is completely filled up with meetings.
In a previous article, I taught you how to write a speech in 30 minutes, and practice makes up at least half of that time. Many people avoid practicing their speech because it makes them feel uncomfortable – but the more you practice, the more comfortable you become.
Excellence doesn’t happen spontaneously; practice is the most important thing you can do to ensure a powerful speech or presentation. Take a minute and think of the potential outcome of your speech: if your speech is effective, could it affect the behaviors of your colleagues, volunteers, or partners? Could it have a direct, positive impact on the success of your business or nonprofit? On revenue or fundraising? On your community?
Practice is what helps you stand out from other speakers and especially stand out in your audience’s eyes.
With that in mind, here are 6 ways to practice while on the go:
- Arrive early and sit in your car. One of my clients drove to the location of an upcoming meeting where she was expected to say a few words. In the parking lot of the venue, she practiced deep breathing and then spoke her remarks out loud. She even recorded herself with her smartphone to play it back and make necessary adjustments. 10 minutes later, she confidently walked into the meeting room prepared to speak.
- Use traffic to your advantage. Another client once said, “Thank God for traffic in LA; it takes an hour to get anywhere and gives me time to prepare for an upcoming speech or meeting. Even if it’s a shorter drive, I spend 20 minutes talking to myself about my upcoming client call.” Use valuable time away from your email to prepare for your speech, whether you’re driving, in a taxi, or using a car service like Lyft or Uber.
- Get up 15 minutes earlier. Even 15 minutes of fresh time in your day can help you clear your head and focus on an upcoming speech or meeting. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself the 3 Questions: Who is your audience? What is your goal? Why you? (Why are you passionate about this?). Those answers keep you focused and strategic in your thinking.
- Spend 10 minutes writing down your thoughts. Another client said, “When I wake up in the morning, I think of the things I have to do and what I want to say in the day’s meetings, but it doesn’t really translate until I write it down.” Spending a few minutes jotting down your notes keeps your priorities top of mind throughout the day. Using the right medium to write your thoughts is just as important as writing them down. I write on Evernote so I can access my notes from any of my devices.
- Use mental rehearsal on public transportation. You can’t always practice your speech out loud on the subway or bus, but you can close your eyes and imagine your speech or conversation in your head. Practice deep breathing and imagine the entire event executed flawlessly; you’ll feel like you’ve actually given the speech successfully. Tip: Don’t forget to imagine the applause at the end – it boosts your confidence.
- When you add a speech to your calendar, block out practice time that week. Take a minute to review your upcoming speaking engagements and ensure you have time set aside in your calendar to prepare.
Just like setting a budget helps you save money, being judicious with your time will help you gain back valuable minutes in your day. Then, you can spend that extra time preparing for your upcoming speech, presentation, or important conversation. Preparation will help you feel more confident, more relaxed, and more natural on stage.