Perhaps you have neatly put together the slides you need for that upcoming presentation at your school, office, or a public conference. It looks great and you think the audience will love it. But the real game begins here – and the game is to prepare well for the presentation mentally, well in advance.
However, as daunting as it may sound, preparing for a presentation is both exciting and rewarding. In this article, we will go over some of the best tips for preparing for a presentation, some of which the most renowned public speakers use on a regular basis to sweep their audiences off their feet and win more followers. Ready? Let’s dig right in!
Tip #1: Give Yourself Sufficient Time to Prepare
One of the most common mistakes when it comes to preparing for a presentation is that last-minute rush that leaves presenters more flustered than relaxed – and being relaxed is the key to delivering a great presentation. So, give yourself sufficient time to prepare thoroughly for your presentation.
Tip #2: Ditch the Notes
Needless to say, you need to set out the important information in a logical order, along with a clear, concise introduction and conclusion. You should also prepare the notes in advance and use them for the preparation.
However, you should not rely on your notes when presenting in front of the audience, or it may sound scripted, unnatural, and boring. Not to mention, it may even make you feel or look nervous in front of the audience. If you really need to take a memory aid with you to ensure you don’t lose track of the logical sequence of the presentation, you can use small index cards with just important keywords written on them.
Tip #3: Give Emphasis to Proper Rehearsals
The secret of having no fear of public speaking when presenting in front of a live audience is to rehearse well enough. Here are some things we suggest for having effective rehearsals for your presentation:
- Rehearse with a live audience. This can include people in your friend circle or peer group who can listen to what you have to say and give you honest feedback about the delivery of the presentation.
- Have some distractions in place. For example, make your friends talk to each other while you are rehearsing, or put some background music on. Basically, whatever you feel can distract you the most during a presentation.
- Pace around as if you’re on the stage and you “own” the stage. Use movements and gestures you will actually use in your final presentation.
- Don’t forget to rehearse for the Q&A part at the end of your presentation, too. Ask your practice audience to throw some questions at you out of the blue, so you can practice replying to them with concise yet persuasive answers.
Tip #4: Make Use of a Wider Range of Vocabulary
To feel confident while presenting, it’s crucial to not get hung up on using specific words in your presentation. It’s highly unlikely that using different words with a similar meaning is going to impact the outcomes of your presentation; so it helps to not be a perfectionist, and just “go with the flow”.
Tip #5: Trim Down the Content
It’s possible that at the time of rehearsing you may realise that you are probably presenting too much information. So, it makes sense to eliminate any bits and pieces that are off the point or redundant. This applies to both the slides you show and the words you say. Also, make an effort to make your sentences more concise and simple.
Tip #6: Don’t Rely Heavily on Technology
There’s always a possibility that something won’t go as per the plan. What if the lights go off, or an important piece of tech, such as the projector or the microphone, suddenly stops working? Of course, this can put a lot of additional stress on you, but you are better off well-prepared for such scenarios than not.
With just a little bit of planning and preemptive checks, you can minimise the risk of such events. Always remember – if a piece of technology does fail unexpectedly, don’t panic! In fact, getting through it without being greatly affected is a sign of confidence, and it might even impress your audience more than if everything went smoothly.
Tip #7: Arrive Early at the Venue of Your Presentation
While it may not be always possible, it certainly helps if you can get to the conference room or theatre where you will be presenting, well ahead of time. This tip helps because the more familiar you feel with the space and the whole tech setup, the more confident and better prepared you will feel while presenting. If possible, have your final rehearsal there and test the audio-visual equipment you will be using for the presentation.
Tip #8: Find Your Comfort Zone and Be Positive
All the professional advice and presentation tips in the world won’t be helpful if you don’t feel confident and at ease with your presentation skills. If you feel nervous, tell yourself you are feeling “excited for the presentation” and you can do it. Having a few rounds of calming breaths can also help. The more comfortable and positive you feel under your skin, the more you feel in “the zone”, the better will be the results of your presentation.
Tip #9: Attend a Presentation Training Workshop
If you’re serious about mastering effective presentation techniques and learn how to deliver a presentation confidently, you should try to get as much real-world experience and stage time in front of a live audience as possible. Check out local meet ups and presentation training workshops in your area, because that’s where the real action and learning happens.
Apart from finding the right advice and professional guidance, you should spend much more time rehearsing than what you spent putting together the presentation content. This is the number one secret of most successful presenters and public speakers. Keep in mind this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin – “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”