Presentation Skills Training:
7 Tips for Making the Most of
Your Presentation Practice
Believe it or not, preparation is a better
determinant of presentation success than knowledge,
experience, or even talent. The best presenter is
almost always the presenter who is the most prepared.
Even so, there are a lot of conflicting ideas about
what constitutes thorough presentation preparation.
So what exactly is thorough preparation?
Here are seven straight forward tips to increase the
effectiveness of the time you invest in your practice.
1. Practice Delivery Out Loud.
Practice is NOT
mentally rehearsing your presentation on the drive
over to the presentation or even thinking about your
presentation while tossing and turning at night. Both
of these are something, but not practice. A lot can
happen between thinking about what you want to say and
actually getting the words to come out of your mouth
coherently. If you don't actually practice speaking
out loud, when the time comes, you may struggle to
articulate your mentally well rehearsed thoughts. To
the audience, this struggle will appear to be lack of
2. Try to Conduct Your Practice in a Situation
Similar to the Real Speaking Venue.
possible, conduct your practice in a situation that
closely mirrors the real presentation. For example,
if you will be speaking in front of a large group in
an auditorium or large conference room, try to
practice in a large room filled with as many audience
recruits as possible. Why? Research indicates that
if your practice closely mirrors your real
presentation, once you are in the actual presentation
your brain will think you have done this before.
Besides practice, the next most important ingredient
in your success is experience.
3. Practice in Front of Real People.
If you can't
find any audience recruits at work, ask your spouse,
best friend, or if all else fails, your pet to listen
to your presentation. Interacting with a live
audience is an important part of your practice. It
helps you not only rehearse your delivery, but gain
experience reading and reacting to the silent messages
your audience is sending you about their
understanding, their likes, and their dislikes.
4. The Mirror is Your Friend.
5. Practice From Beginning to End Without Stopping.
Even after you've
practiced in front of an audience, continue to
rehearse in front of the greatest critic of all,
yourself in the mirror. The mirror is a WONDERFUL if
underused presentation practice tool. It will allow
you to see and hear your delivery live and make
decisions about how to enhance your style. Remember,
when it comes to practicing your presentation, the
mirror really is your friend.
Practice all the way through the presentation without
stopping-even if you make a mistake. Most presenters
have a tendency to stop their practice each time they
make a mistake. Besides reinforcing this negative
practice, when you continually stop and start over you
get very good at the beginning of the presentation,
but can't deliver an effective conclusion because
you've rarely made it to the end of the presentation.
As the second most remembered part of your
presentation, it is important to have a strong, well-
6. Practice With Your Props.
If you are using visual
aids such as a PowerPoint slide show, make sure you
practice with your slides. Visual aids of any kind
add another layer of complexity to presentation and
require practice to use effectively. Practicing with
your slides will help prepare you for the things that
inevitably go wrong and help you avoid unprofessional
behaviors such as not knowing how to advance your
slide show or how to put the slide show in the proper
view for display.
7. Do it One More Time.
After you feel you've done
it well in practice and are happy with your
performance, practice one more time to make sure your
success wasn't just a happy accident. All in all,
depending upon you and your content, you may need to
practice your presentation delivery out loud 5 to 10
times. Yes, that's right, you might have to practice
out loud up to 10 times, but don't worry, your
audience's thundering applause will make the effort
About the author
Debbie Bailey is a well-regarded Presentation Skills
Training Consultant, founder of Trainer2go Inc., and
Author of the book "15 Presentation Secrets - How to
WOW Even the Toughest Audience. For more information
about Debbie go to http://trainer2go.com or email
debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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