Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse most people (me included) implore when it comes to the topic of giving presentations.
It can make a huge difference to the quality of what you deliver and helps calm the nerves - because you know exactly what you are going to be doing.
It helps you clarify how you say what you want to say and how you will present - where to stand, where you'll put your notes and how the technology works.
In an ideal world we would do a full 'dress' rehearsal every time. But in this world everyone is busy and trying to do too much (or is that just me?) - and rehearsing a presentation is the thing that gets left undone.
"I'll just wing it" I've heard many people say (I confess I have done this in the distant past too). But presentations are such crucial moments for your credibility and ultimately your career - they shouldn't be left to chance.
So here are my 5 Fast Tips of the absolute must-do's for rehearsing a presentation:
1. Read your presentation to yourself - at least once - out loud. You'll be surprised when you do this that you might stumble in some places - sometimes the transitions between topics aren't as smooth as you thought they were or something is a bit wordy. Better to stumble over some words on your own than in front of an audience.
2. Prepare your notes - write out the keywords, quotes, statistics - whatever you are going to need to refer to (or at least have on hand) in a way that you can easily refer to them when you are speaking.
If you do want to read something word for word - that's fine. You can introduce that by saying something like, "Now I just want to make sure I get this quote / statistic / point absolutely correct..." as you pick up your papers. No one will fault you for wanting to be accurate.
3. Test the technology - it's essential to make sure you know how the technology works, plugs in or, at the very least, which buttons to press. Seamless integration of technology as you are presenting makes you look professional and avoids the loss of both time and credibility when something doesn't work when you are using it.
4. Know the venue - if it's a team meeting reflect on the best seat at the table so that you will be in the best position to make eye contact with the audience. If you're presenting to a larger audience find out if there is a lectern, where it's positioned on the stage, how you will access the stage and where you will put your support materials (including a glass of water) whilst you are speaking.
5. Have a break between your last rehearsal (even if it's your first one) and the actual presentation. Taking time to clear your head before you do it for real will help you pace your breathing and delivery and put you in control of the presentation.
Be confident, enjoy knowing that you have done your preparation and then...get out there and slay them!
Have you got any other tips you care to share?