There are any number of reasons why people fail to practice their presenting skills, but perhaps the most pernicious of all is the “I don’t need to practice, I want be spontaneous” myth.
This argument is normally heard from people who don’t have enough time to prepare their material – because of work pressures.
And then they stand up in front of an audience – big or small – and try to ‘wing it’, in the often vain hope that something will happen to carry them through.
The reality is, of course, unless you are lucky – or a rare genius – you look and sound unprepared.
Luckily, there are a few quick steps that can help even the most ‘time-poor’ presenter.
Step 1 – think about your audience
Who do you think will be in your audience and what are they expecting? If you don’t know this it will be difficult to know how to pitch your argument.
Step 2 – what’s your conclusion?
Decide on the point you are trying to prove – even if you change it later.
Step 3 – align the facts to support the conclusion
Only use the facts that support your argument and trim out all the others. As you add a fact, check that it follows on from the previous fact and that it supports the conclusion. If it doesn’t, reorganise the facts and try again.
Step 4 – what’s the major weakness in your argument?
You need to think about the worst question you could be asked and be ready to counter it. If you can’t counter it, then your proposition is likely to be faulty and you need to go back to Step 2 and devise a new conclusion or to Step 3 and find better facts.
Step 5 – practice your intro and outro
At the very minimum, practice how you are going to introduce and then finish your presentation – in your mind if you have to. People remember the beginning and the end.
Hope that’s useful and do contact me with your comments and questions.