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Section 27

Table of Contents | NCCAP/NCTRC CE Booklet

You can rehearse at the facility, at home, in the car, or even sitting on your couch with the TV on.  Where you rehearse doesn’t make much difference. The important thing is: Do it!  Tempted to skip your practice sessions, because you feel like a professional orator at the facility? Think again.

You still need practice if you’re going to say something that sounds good. Try this simple progression:

(1) Begin by just reading your talk.  Talk aloud—sitting down, if that makes you more comfortable. Feel free to stop as often as you want to make minor edits or add and refine your stories.
(2) Then practice the presentation from beginning to end without stopping so you can time it accu­rately. Do not allow yourself to repeat sections. If you make a mistake, fix it exactly the way you would in front of an audience—with no back­tracking.
(3) Next, record your talk into a tape recorder. Get more familiar with the content by listening to the tape. This is an easy way to “rehearse” while you are driving to and from the facility. You can also use the tape to time various sections of your Talk if you need to.

For me, tape-recording my Volunteer Recruitment Talk made me painfully aware that I used an inordinate number of 'ums', 'ahs', and 'you knows'.  When this was painfully brought to my attention by listening to the audio tape, I realized I used these as a mechanism to bridge thoughts when my mind was going blank, and I was not sure what to say next.  When I had a firm mental picture of the various parts of my talk, and I knew exactly where I was going after I had completed an idea, these phrases that are like 'nails on a chalkboard' to an audience disappeared.  Below write a critique of your audio or video taped rehearsal.

Critique of Audio or Video Taped Rehearsal

Opening in a friendly, professional, calm manner:

Clearly state your name, title, facility:

Limited use of 'ums', 'ahs', and 'you knows':

Use of the word "You":

Use of group member's names:

Use of demonstration with a group member:

Involving the group by asking for a show of hands:

Pausing, varying the tempo of your speech:

Expressing appreciation towards the group or a member:

Making a clear request for them to sign the clipboard:

Thanking the group for their time:

Did I ask, "What questions do you have?" and pause for 10 seconds?

Did I dress in muted professional colors?  Name tag?

 (4) Now deliver it once or twice standing up, so you get a chance to use gestures to your Calendar.  If your rolled up calendar tends to curl and re-roll up, gently roll it in the opposite direction to flatten it out.  Propping it on a chair works well.  Practice reaching for the activities projects you are gong to demonstrate to the group while you tell a story about a resident who used the activity.
(5) Invite a supportive staff member or a spouse to watch a run-through.  If this rehearsal does not go well, relax. You still have time to make improvements.
(6) If possible, practice at least once in the actual pres­entation room. Adjust your voice to match the size of the room.  However, of course usually this is not possible, but if giving a talk in a church perhaps that room is empty at a time convenient for your schedule and ask the meeting planner or the church secretary if there is a time when the room is free.
(7) Try presenting to a group of coworkers just to get a feel for an audience. Caution: Do not invite coworkers with passive-aggressive personalities or obsessive-compulsive tendencies. They will either deflate your spirits, or pick your presentation to shreds.
 (8) If this is a talk before a large group, pay special attention to any technical needs— microphone, slide support if you decide to show some, video clips, etc. All of these act to embellish your stories explaining your weekly Activity Program. Don’t assume your slides will work the way they did in your office. Don’t assume the microphone is prop­erly adjusted. Practice everything. Leave nothing to chance.  The last presentation I attended, I was actually videotaping at Purdue University on a Saturday morning.  The maintenance man came in, made some adjustments to the computerized panel connected to the podium, and exited immediately.  If I had not been seasoned with the vital need for AV to be set correctly, his subtle appearance could have easily went unnoticed.  His adjustments caused a major hum, which would have rendered my videotape useless, and my entire out-of-town trip would have been a waste.  He exited so quickly, I literally had to chase him down the hall, saying, "Sir!  Sir!  I need your help.  I believe there is a hum in the mike system now."  He returned, made an adjustment or two, and all was fine.  But AV people are hard to find, so when they are making an adjustment in your meeting room, nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, is more important than testing the system at that moment when they are available.
(9) Pay special attention to any delivery problems you may have had in the past. Throughout this re­hearsal process, review your self-evaluations from the past. By looking at past delivery mistakes, you can prevent future problems.

Write your rehearsal schedule below.  Notice the numbers are reversed, so you start with the date of your talk first then work up the table from there.  Notice for the Talk scheduled on September 3rd the “Write talk outline” step was started back on August 15th!  By making this backwards time table and working back from the date that your Talk is scheduled, you avoid the temptation to procrastinate and wait until the eleventh hour… well hopefully!

Steps in Preparing your Talk

Day & Date, Start at the Bottom, Work Backwards from Date of Talk

Write talk outline

8.  August 15th, 16th, and 17th

Practice talk and time

7.  August 20th, Monday 1:00

Tape-record talk and play in car

6.  August 22nd, Wednesday 3:00

Give talk standing up, if needed

5.  August 24th, Friday 2:00

Give talk to a supportive individual

4.  August 28th, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. (friend)

Give talk to a supportive group

3.  August 30th, Thursday 9:30 a.m. (activity assistants)

Review technical needs

2.  September 3rd, Monday, 1:30

Day, date, and time of presentation

1.  September 3rd, Monday, 2:00

Steps in Preparing your Talk

Day & Date, Start at the Bottom, Work Backwards from Date of Talk

Write talk outline


Practice talk and time


Tape-record talk


Give talk standing up, if needed


Give talk to a supportive individual


Give talk to a supportive group


Review technical needs


Day, date, and time of presentation


Forward to Section 28
Back to Section 26

Table of Contents