As someone who grew up participating in speech competitions, I’m used to practice. I spent hours memorizing scripts, analyzing my audience and rehearsing in front of anyone who would listen. When I started college, I was disappointed to find fewer opportunities to deliver speeches.
Once I realized I use speech skills on a daily basis, my outlook changed. Instead of dreading class introductions and unexpected phone calls, I started looking at them as opportunities to practice my speaking skills. If you really think about it, we all have small opportunities to enhance speech delivery in our daily lives. Here are just a few settings where this can happen:
It’s inevitable: When placed in a new setting, you’re going to introduce yourself. While speakers may have 30 seconds to a minute to make a good impression, you only have about five or ten. Use these situations to practice your introductions. Start with confidence, make eye contact and leave everyone with something memorable.
When the telemarketer calls
The phone rings. It’s a number you don’t recognize. Instead of letting it go to voicemail, you answer. As soon as you pick up you wish you hadn’t. Before you make a hasty excuse and hang up, consider it an opportunity.
Speakers frequently address audiences with disagreeing opinions. Take a few minutes to get a better understanding of the product and the person trying to sell it. Earn the telemarketer’s trust, communicate understanding for the situation, and use logic to explain why you do not want or need the product. While they may still try to sway your opinion (it’s their job), this is a great opportunity to create an impromptu argument based off the audience.
When you have a complaint
Ever heard the advice not to mention a problem without proposing a solution? Whether you have an issue with a group project or the service at a restaurant, you can practice pitching ideas for change. Respectfully address the problem, offer potential solutions, and explain why they would work.
Around the campfire
Great speeches include personal anecdotes. It takes practice to tell a story perfectly. Whenever you’re in a relaxed social setting (doesn’t have to be a campfire), practice telling your best anecdotes. See which parts make people laugh and which ones might not be working.
These are by no means the only daily opportunities to practice speech skills. If you’re serious about public speaking, practice whenever you can—even if it means actually listening to a telemarketer for once.
What about you? Do you have other ways to prepare for speeches without actually giving one?