At Mindful Presenter we don’t believe it’s possible to over rehearse your presentation because knowing your material inside and out is one of the fundamental keys to success. The more you know your story the more ready and able you are to adapt and improvise at a moment’s notice if you have to for any reason during your presentation.
Rehearsing and memorizing are two entirely different things.
We recommend you do actually memorize your opening which will give you the confidence to get off with a flying start but memorizing your entire presentation will only make you sound stilted.
Don’t do it, just practice instead.
The other great benefit of thoroughly rehearsing your presentation is that when the time comes to deliver it for real you can be fully present in the room and engaged with your audience in the knowledge that you have done the groundwork.
Phone two friends
Everyone has at least one friend whose opinion they trust and value where they know that whatever happens they will tell them honestly what they think with their best interests at heart. Call that friend and invite them to critique your presentation on the basis of what it is you are trying to achieve.
As they give it to you be open to their feedback and don’t challenge their assertions or offer explanations and justifications for why you just did what you did. Thank them graciously for their time and take their commentary away with you for you to reflect on.
As you ponder on their thoughts whatever resonates with you from their feedback will become clear and you can work on it.
The second friend may be a little harder to find but if you have one make the same call. If you’re lucky this is a friend you regard as a skilled presenter themselves. You’ve seen them on your feet and liked what you saw.
Ask them for the same favour.
Here are some of the areas you may ask both friends to focus on:
Opening – Did you capture their attention and make them want to listen?
Clarity – Could they hear you hear clearly throughout?
Tone – Is there sufficient variation in your tone?
Pace – Are you speaking too fast, too slow or at just the right pace?
Fluency – Is it clear you are very familiar with your content?
Pauses – Do you use them to good effect?
Passion – How passionate do you sound about your message?
Story – Did your presentation take the shape of a story and did it include relevant, interesting and memorable stories?
Eye Contact – What’s it like?
Body Language – Does your movement and gesture enhance and animate your message?
Content -Is it relevant, interesting and engaging?
Structure – Was it logical and easy to follow?
Use of Visual Aids -Were yours necessary suitable, effective and memorable?
Were they easy to read, could you get the point in 3 seconds? Did they support your message?
Did you use them effectively?
Closing – Was yours as powerful as your opening?
The 3 big ones:
Was it relevant to me?
What difference will what you’ve just said make to my personal and professional life?
Am I now emotionally connected enough and inspired to act?
The venue and timing
A key part of your preparation and rehearsing before you get to perform is in understanding exactly where you will be delivering your message, in what environment and with what resources. Find out as much as you can in advance about:
The size of the room
Audio/ Visuals Technical support
The schedule and timing
If the opportunity is available to you to rehearse at the venue itself before you are due to present formally, this will add enormous value in familiarizing you with the room, resources and environment. Do you need to modify your presentation in any way to accommodate the constraints of the venue?
When it comes to technology I tend to believe in Murphy ’s Law which states that:`Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.’
I’ve seen it in operation for myself more than once and have learned from it.
Here’s what I do now:
– I always familiarize myself as much as I can with the technology I’ll be using at each venue for each presentation
– If I’m using an external venue I always ask for a ‘walk through’ of the technology on site.
– I go out of my way to make good friends with the A/V support team
– I arrive for every presentation at least 1 hour early
– I test everything, at least twice
– I do a complete dry run using the projector, remote and audio
– Wherever possible I try to have a back-up plan
– I take back up copies of my presentation on a USB and paper
– I always take my own projector, laptop leads and sound – just in case!
I never rely on the internet!
Whether you are brand new to presenting or have been presenting all over the world for many years the Mindful Presenter will tell you that regardless of your experience rehearsal is one of the most important parts of your preparation.
Watch out for Episode 7 of The Art and Science of Presenting where we will take a much closer look at delivering your presentation including managing nerves.
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If this article has inspired you to learn a little more about how effective your presentation skills are you may want to take a look at our presentation training and presentation coaching pages to see how we may be able to help you. You will also find a great deal of really helpful ‘free’ information in our Learning Centre.
Image: Courtesy of flickr.com