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Preparing for your presentation

May 4, 2010

It is possible to be over prepared, over rehearsed for a talk or presentation.

Possible, yes. Likely, no. From experience, I know that when I feel sure I’m ready, I’m probably not even close.

Photo of Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens.

Credit: Wikimedia commons.

It takes me about three weeks to write a good impromptu speech.
Mark Twain.

Part of that preparation is laying out a simple but memorable ‘map’ for the audience. Something simple like, “I’ve got five points I want to talk about today and then we’ll have a Q&A session.”

But the thing I’m most likely to not get exactly right is the flow. It’s critically important to have a good, logical flow through the topic but it’s hard. I’ve often found I can’t get it right until I’ve done the presentation a few times, for real or a “dress rehearsal” style of practice. It has to feel real for me to get that part right.

One trick I’ve used for years is mental practice. I recently learned that there’s actually confirmed evidence for the fact that many (but not all people) can rehearse a performance in their heads and have it almost as effective as playing the music or giving the talk. Works for me, might work for you, too.

In any case, a presentation with impact doesn’t happen by accident, it needs preparation and lots of it. But it pays off handsomely.

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