Presentation Skills Articles


Essential Presentation Skills


Plan, Practice, Prepare for Your Next Presentation

written by Jan D'Arcy

Do you end up rehearsing in front of your audience? Rehearsal is an important final step in the process of mastering your material and developing a sense of timing. Most people know they should prepare and rehearse presentations, but many speakers tend to emphasize the accuracy of their material or spend time on their graphics. Perhaps you may do a quick mental run-through and feel that is enough. Attention to delivery is usually postponed until the last minute.

Your listeners receive most of their information from your body language and voice.

If the content has not been integrated with your body language and voice, it lessens the impact of your message. An audience can sense you are "winging" it and not accept information or be persuaded.

Here are some suggestions to make your Rehearsal more productive:

  • Rehearse mentally. Review your speech from start to finish in your head several times. See yourself being successful. Most athletes spent as much time preparing themselves mentally as they do physically.
  • Memorize the opening and closing lines of your speech.
  • Select an organizational pattern that will keep you and the audience on track. Make an outline of your main and supporting points.
  • Write out your transitions.
  • Rehearse on site so that you have "home-court advantage." Sit in the back of the room. Become aware of your surroundings and how you will appear to the audience.
  • Conduct a "dress rehearsal." If your presentation requires more formal attire such as a suit and tie, or heels for a woman, rehearse wearing these clothes. Discover how your body language may be altered.
  • Plan on your graphics being finished a few days early. Know the exact sequence and how you will introduce each slide.
  • Rehearse from beginning to end. Time yourself so that you finish 2 minutes early.
  • Videotape yourself. Get feedback.

You will benefit from at least 3 rehearsals.

If you feel secure with your material, you won't panic should something go awry. You will be able to concentrate on your audience. They will thank you for being prepared.

Promise yourself to start rehearsing early in the preparation process for your next presentation!

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”You helped our Marketing and Communications Managers condense a lot of detailed material into a short amount of time. The best part was that they took your advice to ”make it interactive” and were able to establish rapport quickly and maintain a dialogue with the sales reps throughout their presentations. I think the run-throughs on videotape and your critiques allowed them to shift their emphasis to the audience, delivering information that was needed and useful.”

Bob Betz, VP
Stimson Lane
Woodinville, WA

Try some of the techniques I have suggested. Let me know by email if they help you achieve rapport in your next presentation or you have further questions.

Check out my monthly Blog as we will continue to discuss techniques to help you become a Compelling Speaker.


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