“Practice makes perfect.” Truer words were never spoken as when it comes to making a presentation. In order to ensure you get your message across as accurately, and effectively as possible, it is vital that nothing goes wrong. In order to ensure this, you must practice before you present.
Practicing your presentation allows you to ensure you become familiar and comfortable with it. Particularly if you are a little nervous when in front of an audience, this will help to provide a certain level of confidence and take away some of the nervousness you may normally experience.
There are a few factors you should consider when arranging a “dry run” of your presentation:
Know your material
Study The Material
Before you consider an actual practice session of your presentation, be sure you know the material yourself. Read through it as many times as you need to in order to be comfortable with it. Make any necessary corrections and/or changes to ensure it is accurate and your message is complete. Ensure it flows, and generally feels right. When you feel you are ready, move on to the dry run.
Whenever possible use the same location you will be presenting in to practice your presentation. If this is not possible, try to find somewhere that is as similar as possible to the actual venue. This allows you to judge how the presentation is going to sound and “feel” in that space.
It is always a good idea to practice in front of an audience. Not necessary one the size of the audience you will actually be presenting to, however, a few people who will be able to provide feedback on how the presentation comes across. Using people who both have knowledge of and some who have no knowledge of the material is also helpful. Those who know the material can help pick up on any errors and those with no knowledge will give you an indication of the questions you may receive.
As you progress through your practice session, ensure that you take notes. Whether you have a hard copy of your presentation or you make changes as you go, take notes. Take notes of suggested changes, or corrections. Take notes of any questions that are asked, and record the answer or make a note to get the answer if you don’t already know it.
A great tool for ensuring you are as prepared as you can be is to record yourself. By doing this, you hear how the presentation flows. You will know where you sound like you are rushing, where you slow or hesitate and perhaps come across as unsure of yourself, if you are too loud or too quiet. Hearing the presentation from the audience’s point of view can be very helpful in identifying any issues, and making any necessary corrections to ensure your presentation goes as smoothly as possible.
Sticking to your timeline is a very important aspect of any presentation. You will already know how much time you have been allotted to give your presentation and allow for any questions or a discussion period if that is the format. Practicing your timing also allows you to judge if your presentation is too long or too short, or if you need to pick up or slow down your pace at all.
Check Your Equipment
Depending on the type of presentation you are giving, and the audience you hope to reach, you may be using equipment such as projection, or video conferencing, as well as having an on-site audience. If this is the case, it is very important that you ensure you have the equipment you require, and that all necessary equipment is working properly. This may also include ensuring that your internet connection is set up and working properly. It may be a good idea to have a tech support person on hand or at least on standby.
By following these practice suggestions, you will be able to ensure a stress free presentation.