Developing an outstanding presentation takes time and organization.
It’s a combination of crafting compelling content designed to connect with your audience’s hopes, dreams and alleviate fears and then delivering with the right blend of para-lingual and body language techniques.
Last time, I addressed, WHY it’s good practice to practice. Today, we’ll focus on HOW practice.
(Next time, I’ll write about content creation, so stay tuned.)
I’m often asked how to help get rid of nervousness for a presentation. My number one piece of advice is: “Practice!”
And by practice, I mean three things:
1) Speak aloud. Don’t quietly memorize your script to yourself. Do practice aloud and in full volume. Also do not be boring. Do not be monotone. Along with volume, pay attention to the emotion that is behind each word or phrase and make sure to add pitch, inflection, tone and/or pacing to help convey each meaning. Consider emotions like surprise, enthusiasm, frustration, disappointment, imagination, hope and many more. There are so many great ways to play with the sound of your voice. Practicing aloud is where you can begin to hear the difference.
2) Stand and use gestures and expressions. Along with aloud, I also urge you to stand up. Standing up allows your lungs to better be filled with air which provides you the breath support you need to project. Standing is the more commanding and authoritative way to present. If you’re one who wants to appear folksy and approachable, I would probably still encourage you to consider standing instead. Command that room. (Oh, and get away from that dang podium. You don’t need it and it’s just a barrier between you and the real humans in the audience.) Standing also allows you to incorporate important hand gestures. Make broad gestures – even incorporating the whole body at times. Don’t flail your arms at the elbow like a seal. And please, please, please – tell your face that you are delivering some emotion too. Engage your eyes. Hold a smile. Take a pause and really look at the eyes of your audience. Engage!
3) Get in front of a mirror (or while recording video). All of this practice will be more effective if you see how others see you. Stand up and deliver in front of a mirror. Look at yourself. Do you look like you care about your audience? Are you smiling broadly when you are talking about how proud you are about this quarter’s earnings? Are you leaning in when you are encouraging your team that you know they can boost the numbers to reach projections? If you can hit record on your phone or have someone else record you, better still. There’s nothing like watching yourself played back, to help correct areas where you may be flat.
Okay! Those are my top three tips for practicing.
I’m also asked, “How many times should I practice?”
“As many times as you need to do get extremely comfortable with the material.”
You must be solid on your introduction and closing. You should also know the middle well enough to not have to look over your shoulder to read your slide deck – Grr! The more comfortable you are with the presentation, the more comfortable you will be with your audience so you can react and respond in real time with them.
And remember, as with any presentation, it IS all about THEM.
Here’s to great practicing.
P.S. Last word on nerves: While you may never be perfectly calm when speaking before a large crowd, if you discipline yourself to regularly apply careful preparation and practice, you can transfer that extra adrenaline into energy that will make the delivery of your rehearsed script a powerful – and engaging – performance!
Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.