Practice, practice, practice

If you have a big presentation coming up, how are you going to prepare?  You may create a powerpoint and it could be the most amazing powerpoint ever, but if you are not capable of effectively communicating the information, then the presentation could end up being a disaster

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of practicing.  Some people are naturally better at public speaking than others, but this does not mean they get a pass on practicing.  The first couple of runs should be in a quiet room by yourself with no interference.  It will be during this time when you are able to find errors in your powerpoint.  You may also discover whether your presentation flows or not.  Using audio/video recording devices can also help you learn if you are doing or saying things you may not want to.  For example, you may not realize you are swaying back and forth during your presentation, which can be distracting to the audience.  You may also not realize you are saying um or like frequently.  With practice, these types of things can be fixed.

After you are confident presenting to yourself, you can find peers you can practice presenting to.  In some cases, it may make sense to present to someone who does not know anything about the topic you are presenting on.  An individual with little or no knowledge on the topic you are presenting will be able to tell you if your presentation makes sense.  I usually present to my wife because she is very good at giving me honest feedback and telling me if it makes sense.

When you are practicing you will want to keep your audience in mind.  You will want to think ahead to what type of questions will be asked and how you will respond.  The more you understand your topic, the better you will be able to respond to the questions.

Practicing will also be able to help you understand how long your presentation will take, which can be very important when you have limited time to present.  If your presentation is supposed to be 10 minutes and you end up going over 5 minutes, this could cause issues for the next presenter or limit the amount of questions the audience can ask you.  The more you present, the better you will be, which is a form of practicing.  Just make sure you are practicing as often as you can to help improve your presenting skills.  It never feels good to stand in front of people unprepared.

Practice, practice, practice…

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