Developing your content and designing your visual aids is just the beginning. If you really want to deliver a killer presentation, you also need to practice, practice and practice some more. But don’t just practice aimlessly and hope for the best. Instead, you should focus your efforts to maximize improvement. That means knowing exactly what you want to practice and what to look for when you do it.
To be sure you nail your next presentation and every presentation thereafter, make certain to always practice in the following three ways.
1. Time Yourself
Nothing’s worse than a long, drawn-out presentation. It’s boring for the audience and tiresome for you; not to mention, it signifies that you’re under-prepared, making it much harder for the audience to trust what you have to say. You want a tight, edited presentation that’s just long enough to ensure your message is delivered.
It’s really difficult, even for the most seasoned presenters, to gauge just how long a talk is simply by guessing. Therefore, make sure you carve out time during your presentation prep to run through your talk with a timer. And do this continually until you’re consistently stopping at the same time every time.
2. Record Yourself
Once you have your timing down, it’s time to practice your delivery. And there’s no better way to start than by recording yourself. It can be a little cringe-inducing to listen to yourself at first, but it’s critically important to ensure you have an excellent delivery.
When you listen back, pay attention things like how you can use your voice and tone to emphasize important points, where you can pause for questions or suspense, and whether you’re leaning on too many filler words like “uh” “um” and “y’know.”
3. Rehearse in Front of an Audience
After your timing is on point and your delivery is polished, the last thing you need to practice is giving your talk in front of a few people. In addition to making you more comfortable with your delivery in front of a crowd, doing this will also invite feedback about issues you might’ve overlooked while timing or recording yourself.
That being said, make sure you practice it in front of people you’re comfortable getting critical feedback from. You don’t want to do it in front of a bunch of yes-men who will tell you that you’re doing great no matter what. The point of this exercise is to improve, and the only way to get better is to have people whose insight you value shine a light on those areas that should be worked on.
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