1) Where? 2) When? 3) How will you remember?
Starting with the Basics
Hello! After a long absence in June, I’m getting back to work and getting into routines that are good for me. No matter what you’re practicing, it’s helpful to make a plan to set real expectations of when and where you’ll do the task and most importantly, how you’ll remember to do it. Here are some tips for practicing speaking skills.
3 Questions to consider: 1) Where? 2) When? 3) How will you remember?
You need to have a place where you can speak at full volume and not worry about being overheard by roommates, the person in the next office, your kids, whatever might intimidate you to not speak at a natural volume and style. How you practice is how you will speak, so it’s important to have a practice place that you feel comfortable in.
First, eliminate places that wouldn’t be good for practice, but are places where you will eventually want to apply your improved speaking skills. Speaking in places or with people that make you nervous isn’t going to be helpful for you to try new things with your voice.
Second, think about places that are good for practice or people that you feel comfortable practicing with or around. Some people have colleagues at work or friends they include in their plan to practice their speaking skills with.
Maybe the “where” answer will determine the “when” if your practice place is your car on the way to work or the time you have alone in the office at the start of the day.
If you never get to work early, don’t try to change your schedule to make it happen just for practice. Build it into your current routine.
Keep it short.
Don’t plan on an hour or half hour of practicing.
Practicing more often in shorter durations is more likely to make it easy to do and form a habit of doing it. Where can you fit in 5 or 10 minutes of practice in your day?
Keep it simple.
You don’t have to practice a presentation to have a speech workout. You can choose one feature and make that your focus of the day. For example, if you take 5 minutes in the morning to remind yourself to stretch the stressed syllables longer and practice some useful vocabulary words, you’re more likely to have that idea stick in your mind throughout the day, even if you’re not aware of it. Give your subconscious something to work on all day.
Make it specific.
Set specific days and times on your calendar. Identify which days (if not every day), what time of day, and for how long.
How will you remember to practice?
When motivation is strong at the beginning of any new adventure, it’s hard to imagine not having it when you need it. You plan for the best but life gets in the way. Getting help with reminders to practice is a good way to form a new habit. Here are some simple ideas:
Be consistent with the time of day.
Set weekly meetings with yourself, such as practicing 5 days a week.
Keep practice short, just 5-10 minutes is good.
Use your phone’s alarm, online calendar, or an app to set reminders to practice.
Use a paper calendar to mark the days you practiced. Keep it in a visible place.
Write down successful moments in speaking and listening.
Use an app or calendar on your phone - Create a recurring event that you choose to repeat a chosen number of times per week.
Habit building apps - There are many free habit building apps for iPhone and Android. Find one that is simple and motivating for you to use.
Android: The one I have found to be most simple and free: “Habit Loop Tracker”
Android & iPhone:
“Streaks” - Uses a “don’t break the chain” motivation to keep you on track to do up to six activities consistently.
“Habit-Bull: Daily Goal Tracker” - Has multiple ways to track and remind you of the habits you choose.
“Habitify” - Has ability to add notes.
Although there is no endpoint for speech improvement because there are so many personal reasons and goals, there are perceptible results of hard work. Planning for practice and measuring progress is where to start.