We have all heard the cliche statement a thousand times: “Practice makes perfect.” However, when it comes to delivering a successful presentation, this adage certainly proves to be true. While perfection shouldn’t be the end goal, it is clear that practicing can mean the difference between a spotty presentation and remarkable delivery. That’s because practicing can instill confidence in a speaker and help reduce presentation anxiety. Here we will take a look at a few different approaches to practicing for a presentation and why they are so effective.
Why is Practicing So Important?
Practicing your presentation may not actually make your presentation perfect, but it will definitely increase your likelihood of success. The more you practice your presentation, the more familiar you become with the material, the more confident you will be about delivering it, and the more prepared you will be to handle the unexpected. Here are just a few of the benefits of practicing your presentation several times:
- Familiarize yourself with the material and improve the flow of your presentation
- Improve eye contact and body language
- Improve confidence and decrease nerves and anxiety
- Gauge your timing
- Prepare for the unexpected (i.e technical difficulties, difficult questions, losing your place, etc)
Tips and Techniques for Practicing Your Presentation
Become Familiar with the Material
The first step in practicing involves simply familiarizing yourself with the material. Flip through slides, read your notes, read over your speech outline, and look over any visual aids you plan to use. The more you are familiar with your material, the more confident and prepared you will be when it comes time to present.
Practice Out Loud
No matter who well you know the material, it can still be tricky to speak about it in front of an audience. It can be even more difficult to present the material so that it flows well and engages the audience. That’s why it is so important to rehearse your presentation several times out loud. Start rehearsing alone, making changes as you see fit. Perhaps you need to change up a few words or move a couple of slides around. It is important to practice your presentation in its entirety and do so out loud just as you would present to an audience.
As you practice out loud, it can be very helpful to record yourself. When you play back and watch your presentation, you can pick up on mistakes you might not have noticed. Perhaps you were not making eye contact or maybe you caught yourself using unnecessary filler words. Recording yourself gives you a chance to see yourself as others will see you.
Practice in Front of a Mock Audience
It is also extremely beneficial to practice in front of actual people who can provide real feedback. Gather a couple of family members, friends, or colleagues and ask them if you can practice your presentation in front of them. They will be able to give you feedback on what you are doing well and what areas need improvement. This will also help you to get more comfortable speaking in front of a live audience.
Practice at the Venue
Finally, it is important to practice in the exact location where you will be presenting. If this is not possible, try practicing in a similar location. When you practice in the room where you will be speaking, you will be able to get a feel for the acoustics, lighting, spacing, and technical setup. Again, this will greatly improve your confidence when you step into the room for your actual presentation.