The Three Stages of Rehearsal

A question that I get asked a lot as a professional speaker coach is “How much do I need to practice…” for my presentation, my speech, my keynote address?

My answer is always the same…”until the speech feels like it’s a part of you.” I believe that the process of rehearsal goes through three critical stages and the time that it takes to go through each stage varies from person to person.

STAGE #1, starts in your head with MEMORIZATION, learning your speech word for word, sentence by sentence, bullet point by bullet point. This involves you reading your text, memorizing how it looks on the page and learning the words by rote.  This stage usually takes much longer than you think, so be generous when budgeting your time.

With enough practice, going over and over and over you speech, you reach STAGE #2 : VOCALIZATION.

As you say your speech out loud, you begin to “play” with how you say things, accenting some words, speaking slower here and faster there, adding vocal variety into the mix. Your speech begins to come alive and it gets easier to say.   Although you are still concentrating deeply on the content, searching for the words and phrases that you have memorized, you begin to feel that progress is being made because your words start to “flow”.

This is a difficult stage, because you really have to force yourself to keep going – to keep vocalizing. Unfortunately, many people stop here, thinking that they’ve got it. But NO!, they don’t.  If they were asked to perform their speeches at this stage, they would be full of errors and awkward pauses..the speech is not ready yet.

You need more time, you need to be vocalizing even more…because when you do, you slip in to STAGE #3.  This is where the magic happens. You know when you have arrived here, because your speech begins to come out of your mouth and your body fluidly and effortlessly. You’re not thinking about the words anymore, you ARE the words.  You are in the zone. The speech has become a part of your DNA and you are living it and breathing it.

This experience is what I call “speaker’s bliss”. Your speech has gone from being memorized, to being vocalized, to being INTERNALIZED. It has become a part of you!

It is clear that going through each of these stages takes a lot of work and time and you can’t skip past any of them. But, let me encourage you that the work that you need to do in order to get to speaker’s bliss…is WELL WORTH IT!

This accompanying video is brought to you by The Public Speaking School – to help you to Revolutionize How YOU Speak!


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