Saturday, June 9, 2007

Presentation Tip 1: Practice Out loud

From Wilder’s Presentations at:

Practise out loud with real listeners.

Every time I teach a class or coach an individual, I hear, “I get nervous before my talk. And sometimes I can’t sleep.”

I ask, “Do you practise out loud?”

Usually I hear comments like:
  • “I think about it in my car”
  • “I don’t have time to practice. I finish my talks at midnight”
  • “I’ve gone over the slides in my head. That’s enough."

None of these will reduce a presenter’s nervousness.

The only way to really improve at presenting in front of a group is to do a dry run. And it’s best to have two audience members: one who does not know your subject and one who will represent the typical audience for this presentation. The one who does not know your subject can tell you what words, phrases, and acronyms do not make sense. Most audiences include some people who are not that conversant in your area of expertise, and you want to be sure that your talk makes as much sense as possible to them.

The listener who knows your subject will tell you what is unclear, doesn’t flow logically, and may cause your audience to be aggressive and disagree with you.

Next time you feel nervous, rethink your rehearsals. Perhaps you should spend less time creating your slides and more time practising. Your content is important, but if you don’t sound in charge of it and convincing, your audience will not pay attention. And all your hard work will not produce the result you desire.

  • Desired Goal: Practice the entire presentation in front of two people.
  • Acceptable Goal: Practice the entire presentation alone. Imagine people sitting in the chairs around the room and end your sentences looking at certain chairs.
  • Better-Than-Nothing-Goal: Practice the opening and transition phrases between major points and closing.

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