Practice. Hard work that’s worth it.

Here in Italy, this is the first full week of elementare. Italian schools skip kindergarten, so at still five-years -old, Lulu has abruptly jumped from preschool to first grade.

First day of first grade here in Tuscany.
First day of first grade here in Tuscany.

“There’s so much work now.  I liked materna (preschool) better!” she has told me.

“But it takes hard work to get better.  It’s worth the effort!” I advise.

If you have taken the time to write an audience-worthy speech with captivating and simple slides, you need to make the effort to practice your presentation.

Several times.

I know a consultant who says she will rehearse a new keynote speech about twenty times before giving it.

Gina’s practical practice tips.

Read your script out-loud.   Don’t simply read your script to yourself and then glance at your slides.   Practicing out-loud is a great opportunity to adjust your wording, add in more active verbs and colorful adjectives if it’s within your personality – to help create imagery for your audience.  Did you write the way you speak?

Now Stand-up.   If you’re going to present standing up, you better practice the same way.  Look out toward an imaginary audience.  Look away from your notes.  Make broad, wide gestures.  Click through your slides.

Memorize your Introduction and Closing.  Some consultants caution against memorization because they don’t want their clients to forget a word on presentation day and freeze.  But I urge you to memorize not only the words of your first and final paragraphs, but also the intent. Once memorized, rehearse these words with the proper feeling  and comprehension – don’t just recite them by rote.  That way, you’ll have a strong beginning and finish.

Practice in sections and completely  It may be helpful to pull-out a difficult section and repeat it several times to make sure you don’t forget a data point and stumble on presentation day.  But don’t forget to practice your full presentation in real-time.  When I was in the TV news business, we would sometimes record my report and send it out the satellite for stations to use later.  It was called a “look live” – which means I presented just as if I were live – not stopping if I slightly tripped on a word or phrase.  Run through your complete presentation, from beginning to end.

Record and play back.  There is no substitute for watching yourself.   Set up a flip cam or your phone and hit record!  Imagine you’re the audience watching your presentation for the first time.  Are you engaging and memorable?  What can you do to make yourself that way?

You will learn the flow of your slides.  You’ll hear where you need to tighten up your words and make your points stronger.  You’ll see your facial expressions and gestures. Practice is a great thing!

Success in presentations, like school, takes hard work!
Success in presentations, like school, takes hard work!

Author Ray Bradbury backs up what I said to my young daughter when he said, “I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off.  If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice.”

If you have a video of a presentation you made, email it to me. I’ll give you a free evaluation!




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