How you prep for your presentation will depend on time. Today’s post is the first in a three-parter on how to practice for your upcoming presentation. Today, we look at what you can do if you have one week to prepare. Next, we’ll look at what happens when you have two days, and finally, we will share a few tricks and tips when you find yourself in a bind with just two hours to prep.
1. Get on your feet
I once had a director tell me, “You perform how you practice.”
Which means; practice well, present well. Practice poorly, present poorly.
You don’t want to give a bland and boring presentation. You want to give a crisp, clear, and strong presentation.
Sitting in a chair and thinking about your presentation will not create a presentation that pops. You must practice the way you want to present.
Get on your feet. Say your words out loud. Act like you’re giving a poised and powerful presentation for real, every, time.
Once you get in front of your direct reports, peers, boss, or boss’s boss, you simply perform what you practiced.
2. Get in front of a Camera
I often hear the advice, “Practice in front of a mirror.”
The trouble with mirrors is: you cannot see yourself the way your audience sees you.
I challenge you to stand in front of a mirror, look left, look right. Did you see your eyes move?
Video gives you hard evidence. And, it lets you see what your audience will see. It is the best way you can honestly evaluate your own practice.
It may help to give yourself some time in between recording and viewing. It allows you to see it with fresh eyes, and it makes for a more honest review. I find that half a day up to two days’ wait time work best.
3. Get in front of people
When you speak in front of people, you can see faces of agreement or confusion.
Asking a few people to listen while you practice will make a big difference in your real presentation.
When you practice in front of others, consider how you ask for feedback.
Unless you have a presentation coach, it is best to ask simple questions related to your presentation.
Like, “What were my main points?”
“Did you hear anything that did not support my main points?”
“What action did I want you to take, and why?”
And, once you ask, simply listen.
With good questions, your practice audience will show you where to look to make your presentation better.
With one week to prepare, you should have time to practice on your feet and out loud. After that, you can add the camera, and see how you actually come across. Finally, you can schedule a time to call together a few people to watch and give you feedback on the effectiveness and clarity of your message.
In our next post, we’ll explore how to practice when you have two days to prepare.
Written by Ben Borchert