Presentations: Be a Franchise Player. Let's Talk About Practice. Yes, Practice!

In my post, "9 Steps to Boost Your Confidence - Present Like a Champion," I discussed Practicing. I cannot emphasize this enough. Great presenters didn’t become great by reading 100 articles and posts on presenting. They gathered a few techniques and then practiced, practiced, and practiced. A simple way to do this … film yourself. Nothing fancy, an iPhone works just fine. Just record yourself and then review. You can also consider joining your local Toastmasters.

Below I will provide a few techniques you can use for practicing. Using these techniques will help you grow as a business presenter and overall communicator. If you don’t think practicing is important, just Google “Steve Jobs presentation practice.”

Present out loud – You’d think this one is obvious. But, it's not. 

“Reading and speaking your presentation are two different things.” 

- Dr. Michelle Mazur

If you don't practice out loud, you’ll never know how your presentation sounds. Or, where you can improve. 

Make a recording – Audio or video works. My recommendation would be video. This way you can work on your body language and speech. Most smartphones have an audio/video recording functions. If not, I’m sure there are apps you can download.

Time it – How much time do you have for your presentation? When you practice, set a timer. See how long it takes you to present the materials. If you are the only presenter, awesome! You know exactly how much time you have. If this is a meeting, subtract 5 – 10 minutes to allow for interaction.

If you are one of many presenters in the meeting, it's time to prepare. You’ll have to prepare for a few timing scenarios. Let’s say you are the presenter #3 of 4. Plus, it's an hour-long meeting. Each topic covers a 15 minute time slot. Well, it will take at least 5 minutes for everyone to get seated, settled, and ready to go. So subtract 5 minutes from the total time. The first and second presenters will take the full time allotted to them. Shoot, now you have only 10 minutes to do a 15-minute presentation. You go this! You practiced. 

When I worked with my team, we practiced their presentations in 3 different scenarios. 

1.) Full-time

2) ½ time

3) ¼ time

It may sound difficult, but with practice you can provide the same amount of information in 1/4 the time. I've done it many times. 

Visualize – Visualization is a technique that many successful athletes use. They sit down and visualize the racetrack, each corner, their moves, shifting of gears, and so on. Good presenters do this too.  As you practice, visualize the room. Where will you sit or stand? How will you interact with the audience? Use positive visualization to increase your confidence. Close your eyes, visualize your entire presentation. See and feel that positive outcome at the end of it.

Find a trusted friend or colleague – Practice your presentation with someone you trust. They want you to succeed! Tell them you want upfront, honest, and constructive feedback. Have them time your presentation and suggest areas where you can improve.

Background Noise – I recently tried this one, which I found from Scott Schwertly. Add background noise to your practice. Find music or another semi-distracting noise. Play it while practicing. We’ve all been in business meetings / presentations. People are having side conversations, typing on their computer or phones, etc. Nothing but noise and distractions. No problem! We’ll just practice with distractions. Let me know what you think about this technique, did it help you?

Did this post help? What would you add or change? Share this post with your friends and networks. I look forward to hearing from you!

Stewart Swayze