How you practice is often more important than how much. Last month’s ‘Communicate Confidently’ eLetter article on practicing presentations generated several reader questions. Here’s a summary of some of the comments I offered in my email responses:
- Practicing out loud, standing up, working with the slides is the most productive method. Pretend you’re talking to the audience.
- Gaining feedback from colleagues can be very helpful … if they know how to give constructive, specific ‘Plus/Delta’ feedback. ‘Plus’ comments indicate what’s working well that you should continue. ‘Delta’ comments indicate changes that would improve it. Usually the changes involve doing more of something that’s working or less of something that isn’t.
- Audio taping or video taping for self or group critique also can add value. You’ll be able to evaluate the message and delivery from the audience’s perspective.
- Several complete run-thrus right before ‘ShowTime’ should reinforce the content in your short-term memory. Remember that the audience only knows what they hear, not what you should have said.
- Make sure you practice for time. While you can’t control when you start, you can control when you stop. Allow enough time for the anticipated questions as well. If you have 30 minutes on the agenda, aim for 25 in your practicing to allow for the unexpected. No one will mind if you end five minutes early. Everyone will mind if you end five minutes late