Rehearsing Your Presentation

Do I really have to rehearse my presentation? I kind of know it. I’m getting a bit bored with the topic. Couldn’t I just skip that?

No. No, you can’t just skip that. Trust me, all those words sound a whole lot different in front of a friend or even in front of the mirror.

Rehearsing in front of a friend is best because you can ask questions. The one question not to ask is “Did you like it?” Of course they are going to say “Yes.”

A true friend will say “Yes, but…”. Better you should ask questions that will get you some helpful answers. Try these:

Was there anything you did not understand?

Did it flow well or was there a place it seemed to jump ahead?

How can I strengthen my opening and closing?

What do you think my basic message was? How could I make it clearer?

I’m not sure about this part. What would make it better?

If you cannot get a friend to listen to the presentation, then a mirror will have to do. Can you ask some of those questions of yourself? This is time for your critical, analytical self to step forward and be heard. This is not the time for “I’m sure it will be fine.”

There is nothing worse for a presenter than to realize halfway through an important presentation that he or she is way off track, that people are yawning or looking puzzled. Rehearsal time is when you prevent this.

If you are using a mirror watch your facial expressions. Are you deadpan or is your face showing interest and pleasure in your topic? Your own interest and pleasure transmits to the audience; they will respond to what they see.

At the same time, are you still or moving around? Are you having to look at your notes a lot? Notes can be a crutch (just as PowerPoint can be a crutch). If you really feel you need notes try putting them on the podium and just glancing at them. Notes are an interference in the interaction between you and your audience.

As you rehearse, set a timer so you know how long your speech is. Audiences hate a speaker who goes over their allotted time, even if they enjoy the speech. Work on your timing so that you finish shortly before the time allotted to you. You can use this for question and answer time, but your audience will feel they’ve been given a bonus if they get out for lunch a few minutes early.