It’s common knowledge that the best way to nail a presentation is to practice. However, there will be times when circumstances prevent this. Here are three ways you can still impress your audience even if you don’t have time to prepare:
Messy transitions show the audience that you haven’t prepared. Even if you don’t have much preparation time, think about how you are going to transition between slides. I suggest writing down the first and last sentence for each slide. That way, even though you haven’t rehearsed the content, it still gives the illusion that you have. You can rest easy knowing that even if you get a bit off-track, you have a way to bring it back and transition flawlessly to the next idea.
When people don’t have time to practice, they try to cover it up by speaking very quickly and charging through their entire presentation. Instead, utilize the power of the pause. Breathe between slides. Give yourself a “reset” button. Pausing allows the audience’s ears to perk up and take extra note that you’ve said something important. Pausing also shows confidence. It tells the audience that you feel in control of the situation. Utilizing the pause allows you to work the room, even when you feel unprepared.
When people haven’t practiced, they spend most of their energy trying to remember what they want to cover. Instead, think about your presentation in a different way — as an opportunity to teach the audience about your idea. When you teach, the order naturally comes out in the most efficient way. Highlight the important parts. When you teach, you create a connection with the audience because you are focused on them, rather than on yourself.
Even without preparation, focusing on the transitions, pausing and teaching the audience about your ideas will create a powerful and successful presentation.
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Bri McWhorter is the Founder and CEO of Activate to Captivate.