Need a winning strategy for that upcoming presentation? Here are four ways to rehearse your speech for great results!
You've put together an exceptional presentation, and you're ready to achieve real results. Inspire the team. Move your listeners to action. Crush the competition. Whatever your objective, your message and your content are compelling.
Now you're ready for some final preparations and rehearsals.
As with any task, it's the nuts-and-bolts prep you do before execution that will guarantee success. So here are four preparation hacks to get you ready for that all-important speech, presentation, pitch, or lecture.
Under the gun to get a presentation ready in time? Use my quick-fix tool for coming up with a topic and organizing your talk in time. Download my free cheat sheet, "How to Prepare a Speech in 15 Minutes."
The Best Advice for Becoming a Better Speaker
There's one thought I'd like to share with you first, though. It's the best advice I know of for becoming a more accomplished presenter: Acquire as much speaking experience as possible.
Take every opportunity to speak in public—even if that's a nerve-racking proposition for you. That's the only way to gain control over your fear, and to reach that state of mind where speaking in front of others is both pleasurable and productive. You'll learn foolproof ways to start a speech, and how to make your conclusions vivid and memorable.
Now, the practical advice as you get ready to speak.
- Prepare solid briefing materials. Take a page from politicians and diplomats and put together a briefing book. Ask yourself these questions as you compile your information:
- Are my materials memorable (for me)?
- Have I anticipated questions and objections?
- Does each of my main points “headline” the information to come?
- Is my information well laid out and visually highlighted for my benefit?
- Plan your practice sessions. A good strategy for your practice sessions can be just as helpful as visualizing success in your presentation itself. Here’s how to go about it:
- Timing: Begin sooner rather than later. Give yourself sufficient time!
- Emphasis: Be clear on what you’re focusing on each time you practice. For instance, are you looking for feedback on your content (as you may be in early practice sessions)? Logic and language? Level of audience engagement or interaction? Visual components? Strong enough call to action?
- Setting: As you get closer to your speaking date, go from rough-and-ready settings to as close an approximation as you can of the real situation, venue, and audience.
- Rehearse 3 to 5 times: Less than three times is almost winging in. And if you rehearse more than 5 times, you run the risks of a) becoming stale; and b) memorizing movements and repeating them mechanically.
- Debrief your practice sessions. The more you make practicing a central element of your speech prep, the more you’ll start to appreciate the value of a debrief. Dissecting what you’ve done and how you can do better next time can be an eye-opening component leading to improvement. You’ll see something you do, say, or show that you had no idea needed to be changed . . . and now it will!
- Define for yourself what you’ll consider a successful outcome, i.e., give yourself concrete goals.
- Let subordinates and colleagues know that you expect and welcome criticism.
- Make re-do’s on specific parts of your performance a key part of your prep.
- Have an out-of-body-experience. Videotape yourself, or use a tape recorder if you’ll be speaking on radio, in a webinar, or via conference call. You literally need to experience yourself as others will.
- Watch, listen, and work on the rough spots. A painful activity? It can be. Is it helpful? Always!
- Today's digital recording equipment makes this aspect of rehearsing easier and more mobile than ever before. Make use of it!
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