Rehearsing and Delivering Your Presentation

The final step before delivering your presentation is careful, complete rehearsal. Follow these steps to success:

Choose the appropriate mode of delivery

Create a key-word outline for extemporaneous speaking

Practice your delivery skills

Choose a Mode of Delivery

Public Speakers have four choices when it comes to the manner in which they deliver their material. Generally speaking, the extemporaneous mode (speaking conversationally from prepared notes) is the most appropriate for classroom speaking. For the sake of comparison, all four modes are described below.

Impromptu: spontaneous, unrehearsed manner of speaking. Advantages for the speaker include a natural and spontaneous feel, a large degree of eye contact with the audience, and the opportunity to respond to audience feedback. Disadvantages include a lack of organization, increased anxiety, insertion of verbal fillers such as "um," "you know," and the inability to include prepared visual aids such as graphs and charts.

Manuscript:the speech is written out completely and read aloud to the audience. Two advantages to this mode are that the language may be planned carefully and the speaker has an exact record of the speech. However, the speaker is afforded limited eye contact with the audience and is not likely to be aware of audience feedback. The speech may sound stilted and monotonous due to the written style of the speech. We often write in lengthy, complex sentences that do not translate well into oral style.

Memorized: the speech is written out and committed to memory.Two advantages to this method of delivery are that it allows the speaker to have full eye contact with the audience and the wording of the speech can be carefully planned. The disadvantages are many: forgetting one idea can lead to forgetting the rest of the speech; the speaker cannot adapt to feedback from the audience; it requires a large investment of time; and it is likely to sound "memorized" and stilted.

Extemporaneous: speaking from prepared notes in a conversational manner. By far the best choice for most academic and professional presentations, this mode allows the speaker ample time to prepare. He or she can include stats, quotes, graphs, and other audiovisual aides in the presentation. The presence of a key word outline provides security, yet allows flexibility in the presentation. The speaker may establish eye contact with the audience and therefore has the opportunity to respond to audience feedback. One drawback is that if the speaker is not adequatley rehearsed, he or she may falter in the presentation. Rehearsal is essential.

Create a Key-word Outline

A full-sentence planning outline is a necessary first step in the preparation of your presentation. It allows you to flesh out your ideas and organize them in a logical pattern. Once this is accomplished, you are ready to begin rehearsing your speech in an extemporaneous manner – that is, with notes to guide you as you talk naturally with your audience. This key word outline provides the framework for you to connect with your audience; you will be able to establish eye contact with your audience and therefore be able to respond to their feedback as you give your presentation. It also alleviates the possibility of your reading your full-sentence planning outline to the audience, likely losing their interest.Follow these easy steps to create your speaking outline:

Underline the most important words of each main point and sub-point in your planning outline.

Using the same numerals and letters, write down the key words on 4X6 or 5X7 inch index cards

Write out any direct quotes, source citations, or important statistics that you need to remember.

You may also write out the introduction and conclusion. However, don’t read them to your audience. You must establish eye contact from the start of your speech.

Rehearse Your Delivery

Working from your Key-word outline, rehearse your speech aloud a few times before your presentation day. Rehearse in front of a mirror a couple of times, and then recruit a few friends or family members to serve as a practice audience for your speech. If you will be using audiovisual aides, practice incorporating them in your speech. An excellent way to get the most out of your rehearsal time is to schedule an appointment at the Ferguson Center for Public Speaking, where a consultant will offer specific feedback and encouragement.

Good delivery supports the content of your message. A few pointers:

1. Choose the appropriate delivery style. In a classroom presentation or lecture situation, the extemporaneous mode --speaking from prepared notes-- is often the best.

Brief notes = organization and security

Brief notes = maximum eye contact with the audience

Brief notes = conversational, spontaneous style
2. Use nonverbal communication appropriately.

1. Posture and Appearance:
Dress professionally. Stand up straight with your arms by your sides, hands out of your pockets. If you choose to remain seated, do not lean on the table or desk – sit up straight.

2. Gestures:
Use gestures to accentuate a thought and animate your presentation.

3. Eye Contact:
Look at your listeners– this makes them feel important and lets them know that you want to share your message. It also allows you to respond to the feedback that you receive as you give your talk.

4. Facial Expression
Your facial cues allow your listeners to interpret the meaning of your message. You can communicate your enthusiasm to your listeners and, by doing so, increase their interest in the subject. Likewise, a bored expression on your part is certain to bore your audience.

III. Use your voice to enhance your message.

1. Volume:
Speak with enough volume to be heard by everyone in the room! Speaking too softly may communicate a lack of confidence; however, speaking too loudly may communciate an overbearing and aggressive demeanor.

2. Rate:
Variety is the key! Slow down for serious and/or complex material. Speed up for lighter material and/or emotionally charged material.

3. Articulation:
Strive to pronounce your words clearly so that your audience can understand you. Pay particular attention to middle and final consonants in words!

4. Professionalism:
Avoid slang, jargon, and profanity!