We hear it all the time, “practice, practice, practice.” But what we don’t hear is how to practice. That’s why people are often surprised when they rehearse a presentation and it doesn’t go according to plan. If you’re going to take the time to rehearse your ideas, you want to make sure you are doing it in the most effective way. Here are some tips to keep in mind next time you are practicing a presentation:
Most people practice their presentation in the most convenient location —in front of their computer. However, when you do this, you’re normally hunched over a desk mumbling to yourself. Instead, you want to make sure you are practicing your presentation in the way you will be giving it. Step away from your desk, stand up straight, and use your full voice when practicing.
2. Don’t rely on the slides
The other thing that happens if you practice a presentation while staring at a computer, is that you get used to looking at your slides. Then, when you get in front of an audience, you end up needing to face your PowerPoint to remember your content. Audiences don’t come to a talk to see your back turned to them. Instead, practice looking up and only check in with your slides when you click to a new one.
Many people have had the terrible experience of “blanking” in front of a crowd. They forget what they want to say next. Most of the time, this happens because they haven’t practiced their transitions. Double-check that all your transitions are mapped out in a logical order.
When you click to a new slide, you don’t want to be looking at the slide and think, “How should I start this one?” Instead, map out the first sentence of every slide. That way, when you click to a new slide, you know how to begin. It will help you stay confident and keep the audience engaged.
5. Break it down
If you have a long presentation (over 20 minutes), don’t try to rehearse the whole thing over and over. Instead, break it down into smaller sections. Practice the first 10 minutes, then take a small break. Then, practice the next 10 minutes. That way, you aren’t tired by the time you get to the half-way point.
Next time you have a presentation, practice in the most efficient way possible. Get out from behind your desk, look up and away from your slides, make sure your content is logical, know your transitions, and break down longer talks into smaller sections.
Bri McWhorter is the Founder and CEO of Activate to Captivate.