I love to hear the excuses my clients give for why they did not do well at their last speaking engagement. Whatever the excuse, in most cases, the real reason for this problem is lack of preparation. I cannot tell you how many people tell me that they went over their material several times and they still did not do well giving their speech or presentation.

I then ask them how they practiced and they proceed to explain that they went over it in their mind on numerous occasions. Do you know the mistake in that scenario? They went over it in their mind.

If professional athletes, musicians, singers, actors, and other performers went over their material in their mind, there would be no professional athletics, no concerts, and no Broadway!

Practicing your material – whether it is for a musical event or a stage production – requires that you physically rehearse out loud. For the athlete, it means you exercise and you practice. A LOT! What makes these actors and performers professional is that they have done their due diligence. They have practiced and will continue to do.

I do not know how you could possibly believe you will do a good job in public speaking if you have not practiced your material orally. I suggest placing some stuffed animals in several chairs in your living room and talking to the animals, pretending that they are your audience.

Recording yourself is also part of the process. Today’s technology is so advanced and so available to most people that there really is no excuse for not recording yourself. If you plan a career in public speaking or are required by your company to present material often, it is to your advantage to invest in some form of recording equipment, preferably video. To be able to see and hear yourself is a fantastic tool to hone your presentation skills.

While I do not advocate memorization of the body of your material, I do suggest that you memorize your opening: getting through the beginning of your speech or presentation without a mistake is a tremendous confidence booster. Then, as you move into the body or development of your script, talk around your bullet points, just as if you were having a conversation with friends or family in your living room.

Will you be nervous if you practice diligently? I certainly hope so. All great athletes and performers experience nervousness but they trust in themselves because they have prepared themselves to do the best job possible.

Prepare and practice for your next speaking engagement and you can avoid the excuses!

Author's Bio: 

Watch The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels as she describes Dynamic Public Speaking Skills at Voice Dynamic or if you are interested in working personally with Nancy, check out her Voice Training Workshops.