3 Rehearsal Tips
By Bob Goodyear
Over the last few months, I’ve helped two people prepare for important presentations they were scheduled to give. As they created their content and fine-tuned their PowerPoint decks, they both asked the best way to practice for the actual presentation. Today, I’ll share with you the 3 tips I gave them about rehearsing for a presentation.
Tip #1 – Always rehearse verbally
This simple tip is often ignored by presenters. Early in my presenting career I considered rehearsal to be nothing more than putting my slides in presentation mode and just thinking about what I would say for each slide. I would click through any animations to make sure they were in order, but I never verbalized, or spoke out loud, what I would actually say. While “silent practice” is beneficial to get the flow of your presentation in your head, what you miss is hearing whether the words go together with the slide. By verbalizing your presentation while showing the slide, you get a feel for whether what you say actually goes with what is showing on the slide.
A bonus tip for rehearsing is to stand up while you’re practicing. This puts your body in the same position as when you actually present.
Tip #2 – Rehearse in front of someone
While tip #1 is hard for many people, tip #2 gets harder. Rehearsing your presentation in front of someone else is more difficult because you are letting someone watch and hear you. This type of rehearsal, sometimes referred to as a “dry run,” doesn’t really count as the real presentation even though you might be almost as nervous doing this as giving the actual presentation. This type of rehearsal gives you 2 advantages: you get to feel what it’s like to give the presentation in front of a live audience (hopefully it’s a friendly one) and you can get feedback from someone about whether you are making sense. I tried this recently by rehearsing in front of my wife. She noticed that whenever I began to tell a story that I have told numerous times before my conversational tone was lost and I sounded more mechanical. She reminded me that I shouldn’t go into my “automatic mode” of telling the story but should tell it as though I was living through it again. It was a great suggestion that I wouldn’t have gotten if I had not done this type of rehearsal.
Tip #3 – Video your rehearsal
For me this is the hardest tip to follow. Watching the video after your practice presentation is incredibly hard to do, but at the same time it is rewarding. You can see what your audience sees. The first time it was suggested to me that I record my presentation I refused and stated that I didn’t like looking at myself. The response I got was classic: “Well, the audience has to watch you so why shouldn’t you?” I gave in and now I often use this technique when I really want to fine-tune a presentation.
Follow these 3 tips for rehearsal and I promise that your final presentation will be much more polished than it would have been if you just did the “silent practice.” Remember, winging it is not a good strategy for any presentation.
Bob Goodyear is a veteran speaker on technology who understands the communications challenges that technical professionals face. Find out how Bob can help your organization with its presentations. Reach Bob by email or by phone at 678.447.7272