How Many Times Should You Practice A Speech

How many time should you practice a speech

The number of times you practice a speech depends on the length of the speech, the complexity of the subject matter, your familiarity with the materials, and your comfort level with public speaking. Practicing 10 times is right for many occasions, but you should practice more if needed.

Public speaking is for more than just people with an innate gift of gab. It’s a skill that can be taught, practiced, and honed over time. But if you’re about to give a speech or presentation in front of an audience, you might ask: How much practice is enough? What’s the number of times you should rehearse? Read on the find out. 

How Much Practice Do You Need Before Giving A Speech?

Even Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, one of the most prolific speakers in technology and business, spent time and resources crafting a good presentation. He practiced every line and every slide before he went on stage and presented what he had to present. 

The same is true with speakers who deliver TED Talks. Issac Lidsky, an esteemed author and entrepreneur, practiced over a thousand times to deliver this speech that clocks in at under 12 minutes. Even a podcast guest, an experienced keynote speaker, or a student who will give a PowerPoint presentation rehearses before their actual speaking stint.

The question is: How much should a public speaker rehearse?

There isn’t one definite answer. While some say you must practice at least 5 to 10 times, it will still depend on several factors. One good rule of thumb or magic number to follow is to allocate at least twice the number of minutes to practice. That means if you’re delivering a 20-minute speech, you must practice at least 40 times; and least 60 times if you’re presentation is 30 minutes long.

Others also follow a one hour:2 minute ratio. If you will give a speech worth 2 minutes, you must practice it for one hour.

Convert words into time and deice how many times to practice your speech

What Impacts How Much You Should Practice?

Various elements affect how much you should practice for a speech. If you’re giving a shorter speech, you’ll have more chances to practice it because each run-through would be less time-consuming. 

However, you must also consider whether your topic is simple or complex. Even if you’re familiar with certain subject matter, you must dedicate time to delivering your speech in a way that the audience will easily understand and digest. 

Additionally, you must have more practice sessions if you’re unfamiliar with your materials, including the research or studies you will use to strengthen or prove your key points. You don’t want to fumble with visual aids as you burn speech time!

If you still need to polish your presentation skills, you must intensify your efforts and rehearsals to give a compelling presentation. It doesn’t mean you should be complacent if you’re a veteran speaker. Just the same, you must practice because every speaking opportunity will be different. The key is to internalize your speech and presentation and deliver it as smoothly and confidently as possible.

How Many Times Should You Practice A Speech Before Presenting?

Whenever you practice, you don’t always have to go over the whole speech or presentation. But if you’re asking how many times you should practice your piece in its final form — while using visual aids, if any — you must do it about five times. 

How Long Should You Practice A 5-Minute Speech?

The time limit is one of the most important factors to consider when delivering a speech. If you’re only instructed to do a 5-minute speech, you must craft a piece that falls within that limit and practice it so that you will stay within the allocated time. 

Following the one hour:2 minutes rule, you must practice your 5-minute presentation for at least 2.5 hours. If you’re new to public speaking and have yet to master various public speaking skills, you might want to extend that and follow the 30-hour practice rule. 

Can You Rehearse A Speech Too Much?

A great presentation is one that seems to come out naturally from the speaker. While rehearsing is important, you must remember that over-preparing can appear like you’re just acting out your presentation. Especially on the day of your speech, you must be careful not to over-practice. It can negatively impact your delivery — from the tone of your voice to your body language. 

Rehearsing your speech aims to help you internalize it, not memorize every line and gesture.  

Practice your speech in a mirror

What Are Some Tips For Practicing Your Speech?

So, what is the right way to practice public speaking? Here are some proven communication strategies and public speaking tips — for students, entrepreneurs, leaders, and just about everyone. 

  1. Internalize your material. Familiarizing yourself with your piece isn’t the same as memorizing it word for word (including transitions). You don’t want to come across as stilted. Your aim is to understand the key points and know how to present them in an organized and logical manner. 
  2. Speak out loud. When practicing, you must speak the word aloud as if you’re already delivering your speech on the day of your public speaking stint. This will help you be more comfortable with your piece and identify any challenging parts or stumbling blocks. If there are words you find hard to pronounce or parts you can’t articulate well, you can adjust them accordingly to ensure a more polished presentation. 
  3. Do it in front of a mirror. If you want to see how you look as you deliver your speech, you must rehearse in front of a mirror. Observe your posture, facial expressions, and gestures. Assess if you look stiff and make the necessary improvements. Remember that your speech isn’t just about the words but also about the visual cues you give off. These two elements must complement each other to deliver an effective presentation. 
  4. Let your body language come naturally. Though you must be aware of your body language, it’s not tantamount to saying that you must memorize and act out every appropriate gesture. As mentioned, it will make you look like an actor — not a speaker or presenter. The vital thing to do is to understand the essence of the words you’re conveying. When you do that, you’re allowing yourself to make gestures more naturally than following a scripted presentation. 
  5. Record and listen to how you sound like. You must also observe your sound, not just your visuals. Mind your tone and check if you’re pronouncing words correctly. You must also listen when you record your rehearsals if you’re saying too many filler words (including those “ums” and “uhs”). Giving a speech with excessive filler words can negatively influence its impact.
  6. Practice with an audience. If you want to really simulate how it feels on the day of your speech, invite loved ones, friends, colleagues, or peers to watch your practice. This way, you can practice eye contact and gauge their reaction. You can also ask them for honest feedback and learn how to make your presentation more engaging.
  7. Enlist help from a speech coach. Even the best speakers still need some coaching. So if you want to get in-depth guidance and evaluation to help you better prepare for your speech, you must get professional help. These pros will give you unbiased opinions and practical tips on taking your public speaking skills to a higher level.
Deliver your speech with confidence

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