Presentation Skills: Practice Makes Perfect

skyeteam leadership development

Practice definitely makes perfect.  However it is ‘guided practice’ that will reap the greatest rewards for you.  In the same way as people seek coaches to improve their sporting game, you should seek out a trusted adviser to help you to prepare and practice your presentation.  It can be a friend, family, work colleague.  You cannot do this alone, you need another HUMAN BEING to listen and to give you honest feedback on both your presentation content and presentation skills.

Before you enlist the help of others, do take time to practice your presentation on your own.  Too often people rush into a presentation minutes before with little preparation.  The mental excuses range from “I didn’t have time, I can wing it” through to “it’s only my team, they will understand”.  Your reputation, your credibility is impacted by how effectively you can communicate.  Don’t make the mistake of underestimating this.

If you are nervous then I would advise that you memorize the opening few sentences of your presentation.  This will help ensure that you can run on ‘auto pilot’ in those early moments as you calm your nerves and settle into your stride.  This is assuming that you are able to take notes to use for the remainder of your presentation.  However the goal is to refer to these only as necessary, not to read them, you need to know the remainder of your presentation well, but you don’t need to commit to memory.

Presentations and public speaking are AUDIBLE activities.  In order to practice effectively you do need to talk out loud.  You cannot practice by reading your script.

Practice out loud…in the car, in the office, in the shower, where ever the opportunity presents itself.  And LISTEN to yourself.  You need to be comfortable with how your voice sounds, you need to listen to what you are saying – does it still  make as much sense spoken out loud as it did on paper?  If necessary don’t be afraid to re edit your content.

Practice in a room similar to the one you will be delivering in (your voice sounds different).

Practice with an audience – get feedback on style and content.


Get the picture? I have made the mistake of practicing in my head – it doesn’t work – presentations are about talking out loud – so make sure you do.