Should I Practice Speaking in Front of a Mirror?

April 7, 2023

6 min read

Practicing in front of a mirror is a valuable tool for many activities. Dancers, for example, rehearse in front of mirrors. Furthermore, mirrors are an absolute necessity for actors who need to apply stage makeup before a performance. In a way, public speaking is a sort of performance, just like dancing or acting. But is practicing speaking in front of a mirror as helpful for public speakers as it is for other performers?

In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of practicing in front of a mirror to improve your speaking skills. We’ll weigh the benefits and limitations of using a mirror to practice giving a speech. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to decide for yourself if practicing in front of a mirror is right for you.

Pro #1: Improve Your Memorization Skills

Practicing speaking in front of a mirror can be a fantastic way to memorize a presentation. You’re less likely to rely on your notes when presenting to your reflection. Because of this, speaking into a mirror is a great way to check your memorization of a script. You can even make a game out of it! Make eye contact with your reflection as your deliver your speech—like a staring contest with yourself. If you break eye contact to look at your presentation notes, you lose. Making public speaking into a game with Yoodli can reduce anxiety around giving a presentation.

Con #1: Distractions

When looking into a mirror, we’re prone to getting distracted by details of our appearance. This is not ideal for public speaking—it takes attention away from the act of presenting. In the moment, it can be hard to simultaneously present and judge your delivery. This is why we suggest incorporating video recording into your public speaking practice sessions. Try to record a video of yourself to rewatch rather than watching yourself present in real time. In doing this, you can better identify areas for improvement.

Pro #2: No Judgement

Let’s face it—presenting to an audience is scary. It’s been proven that public speaking is one of the top fears among Americans. We all fear rejection, and it’s easy to obsess over what people think of us. Public speaking forces us to encounter both of these very human fears. A great thing about rehearsing in front of a mirror is you don’t have to face these fears. A mirror won’t judge you—there’s no reason to get stage fright when talking to your reflection. For this reason, practicing in front of a mirror is a great way to start improving your speaking skills when you’re afraid of being judged.

Con #2: No Feedback

On the other hand, no judgement means no feedback. An essential component of preparing to give a talk is incorporating feedback from mentors and peers. This feedback helps you develop your presentation into the best it can possibly be. Mirrors, unfortunately, cannot give constructive criticism. They can’t tell you whether or not your presentation was compelling and coherent. Public speaking coaches are a great resource for getting targeted feedback on your speaking skills. Live audiences—friends, colleagues, roommates—are also great sources of constructive feedback on your delivery.

In order to get this kind of feedback, though, you have to overcome the fear of public speaking. Giving a presentation in front of other people can feel daunting, and you risk the possibility of being judged harshly by others. If this is something that’s holding you back from practicing a speech or presentation, you can start by speaking to an AI speech coach like Yoodli. Yoodli gives you constructive feedback without any judgement—it’s a safe space to start developing your public speaking skills.

Get the best of both worlds with Yoodli’s AI speech coach: targeted feedback plus zero judgement.

Pro #3: Convenient

One great thing about practicing in front of a mirror is how convenient it is. You can practice speaking to a mirror whenever you want: while you’re brushing your teeth in the morning or even in the car on your way to work. If you invest in a handheld mirror, you can bring it with you and practice on the go. What’s more, you can find mirrors just about anywhere. If you’re out and about, you can stop in a public restroom to deliver your speech or presentation in front of a mirror—as long as you don’t mind other people hearing you.

Like a mirror, Yoodli allows you to practice from anywhere in the world, anytime you’d like. Unlike a mirror, Yoodli counts your filler words, tracks eye contact, and provides a transcription of your speech. In addition, Yoodli can join your Zoom meetings and online calls and provide AI-generated analytics. It keeps track of your speech rate and interruptions for you, which means you can improve your communication and public speaking without even trying.

Con #3: It’s Nothing Like the Real Thing

At the end of the day, practicing speaking to a mirror is nothing like speaking to real people. Having a live audience can completely change how it feels to deliver a presentation. Additionally, the size of your audience can have a huge impact on how your experience giving a speech. To give an example, speaking in a small meeting of four or five colleagues is a completely different experience from giving a presentation in a large lecture hall of two hundred people. The only way to get better at adapting to speak well for an audience of any size is to practice in front of audiences of many different makeups.

Rehearsing your presentation for live audiences of different sizes will help you become a flexible communicator. As you practice this, you’ll become comfortable delivering your speech in any environment. Unfortunately, a mirror is not a great tool for improving your communication skills in this way. Practicing in front of a mirror is nothing like delivering a speech for a live audience. If you’re only comfortable speaking to a mirror, you may not be able to speak confidently when the time comes to present.

Final Thoughts

Practicing in front of a mirror can be valuable when preparing for a presentation or improving your communication skills. However, you won’t receive the type of feedback you would get from a live audience or a speaking coach. The choice between practicing to a mirror or in front of an audience ultimately comes down to what works best for your goals. Identifying your individual areas for improvement in your public speaking can help you decide whether practicing speaking in front of a mirror is right for you. If you want feedback on your delivery, a mirror is probably not the way to go. However, if you only need to work on memorizing a script, a mirror can be a helpful tool; you’ll be able to keep yourself from checking your presentation notes. Yoodli‘s free AI-powered speaking coach is a great tool to help you target areas for improvement in your speaking and communication skills.

Yoodli AI speech coach in action (“smart mirror”)

The bottom line is this: to improve your public speaking, it’s best to use all the tools at your disposal. Practicing in front of a mirror is a great supplement to working with a speech coach or getting feedback from your peers. However, practicing speaking in front of a mirror has its limitations. Trying out as many different methods as possible is the most direct way to find the easiest path towards becoming a great speaker. We wish you the best on your public speaking journey!


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