Try to rehearse under similar conditions to those you will be presenting in. If you can use the same room, fantastic, but this is rather unlikely. Try to set up a mock presentation area in your house or office. Do not rehearse in front of the mirror. It is very challenging to be the presenter and the audience at the same time. Set up your living room with chairs all around so that you can make eye contact with people in all areas of the room. Or if it is a boardroom setting you will be delivering your presentation in, set up your dining room table as the board room.
Always make sure you practice out loud and in real time. This will help you hear where you may have some verbiage that is tricky to deliver and will also let you know the timeframe that your presentation falls into. It will help you know if you need to add some information or delete some information to stay within the allotted timeframe given for your talk.
If possible set up a video camera so you can tape yourself and see what your audience will be seeing and hearing. Watch yourself in the video and make notes of what you need to change. You may find that your gestures are not supporting your message or that you have a facial tic when you get nervous or that your eye contact is minimal. After you assess your video make sure to rewind the tape and listen to at least one to two minutes of the audio only, (no video). Often we do not pick up subtle nuances in our vocal patterns when we are watching visuals of ourselves. Perhaps you will hear a lot of vocal fillers, or realize your voice is too soft or monotone or your pace is too fast.
Once you take notes on what you see and hear that needs to be corrected, ask one or two people you trust to watch the video and give you some feedback as well. They may not know about presentation skills but most people know what works for them and doesn’t. Don’t just practice one time. Practice as often as you can. If you have a week before you present make sure you go through your presentation at least once per night before the presentation date. Practice and videotape your performance then make notes on what needs to be changed. Practice the changes videotaped and again make the necessary changes. The more you rehearse - the more natural you will appear to your audience.
If you will be using someone else’s equipment arrive early to the venue so you can become familiar with it before you present. And anticipate any questions that might come up as a result of the audience hearing your presentation. Make sure you practice the answers to the questions and leave enough time in your presentation for a formal close, Q&A and then another formal close. You never want to stop your presentation on the Q&A section. You want to remind the audience the key points you hit upon, the action you would like them to take as a result of hearing your presentation and why they should want to do it. What’s in it for them? In this way your presentation will be more persuasive.
The late Prime Minister of England Sir Winston Churchill was considered to be a great orator. His ability to communicate his message and make himself understood is very well documented. He believed so much in the power of the delivery that he spent as much time preparing his impromptu remarks as he did his formal speeches. Proper preparation is one of the key factors in getting rid of stage fright. The importance of preparation cannot be diminished. When you are properly prepared you will stay on focus and deliver a more powerful, persuasive presentation and be fully present for your audience and their needs. So practice, practice, practice because practice really does make perfect!
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Debbie Darling, ©2015 The Presentation ProsRead more of The Presentation Pros blog HERE.