You’ve given a speech and captured it on video. Congratulations! Now what?
What you do next depends on the strength of your desire to improve. For my purposes, I’m going to assume you’re not one of those speakers who will simply let that video languish, un-viewed. Instead, you want to use your video as a learning tool. How do you do that? By reviewing it, obviously. But some strategies for doing so are more effective than others. Here is a four-step process you can use that I believe will give you the best results.
Step 1: Watch the video with the sound turned off. That’s right – don’t listen to it! On this first pass, start to develop the habit of asking questions about the speaker in third person. This will help you begin to be more objective than we can typically be when watching ourselves on video. (Not hearing your own voice will help with this.) Don’t ask “What do I look like?” or “What the heck was I doing?” Instead, ask questions like, “How well does the speaker use the stage? What is the speaker’s body language saying here? How well does the speaker seem to be engaged with the audience? Where is that engagement the strongest or the weakest?”
Step 2: Turn your back to the screen (or turn your video monitor off) and just listen. This is the opposite of Step 1 – now you want sound and no visual. Again, ask your questions in the third person: Does the speaker have a coherent message? Does she deliver it without repeating herself or stumbling over transitions? Are the stories engaging and clearly related to his points? Is his intention clear? Do I understand what the speaker wants the listeners to think, do, or feel differently by the end?
Step 3: Watch the video again, but at faster than normal playback speed. This is not hard to do with most video programs (or, if you’re old-school, a DVD player). Chances are, you won’t have audio, and that’s fine. This time you are watching for repeated physical mannerisms that will become evident when you speed up the video. What does the speaker do with his hands? Does she push her hair back frequently? If you think you’re watching a tennis match, perhaps the speaker paces back and forth excessively. These are the sort of things that come out when you watch it sped up.
Step 4: Watch and listen normally. Be sure to save this step for last! Now that you have practiced some third-person objectivity in your viewing, apply that here. How well does the speaker get and hold your attention? How would you rate the speaker’s overall effectiveness? Are the voice, body, and face congruent with the words being spoken? Does the speaker come across as someone the audience can relate to? What would you advise the speaker to do differently next time?
Once you have made it through all four of these passes, congratulations again! You have taken a big step toward improving your next speech.
Want to improve even more? Consider using the services of a speaking coach. More information on coaching can be found elsewhere on this site.