I used to ride a thoroughbred horse called Lucy. She terrified me. When you jumped her she dashed at the fence full speed, galloped over it somehow and raced off to the next jump. The reason she did it was fear.
She thought that if she just got it over as fast as possible it would all be ok. But her potential performance was dramatically reduced.
Many people take the ‘Lucy’ approach to presentations. They assume that if they don’t think about it too much. Don’t prepare. Don’t rehearse. Somehow it will all work out better.
The reality is it won’t. No one can do their best work without rehearsal. You lose eye contact because you’re searching for the words so the audience don’t listen. You ramble so the audience don’t get the point. And your credibility and expertise doesn’t come through, which damages your reputation.
You’ll put in more time for rehearsing some presentations than for others. Here are 5 quick practical tips for busy people:
- Be very clear to yourself what your key point is and what you want the audience to do. So if your time is shortened you can cut to the point quickly.
- Speak your presentation out loud as though you were giving it to the audience. It is a verbal activity so it’s no good rehearsing silently or doing the ‘then I’ll say this’ type of rehearsal. Talk to yourself in the car, in the shower, walking the dog, so that you can give the presentation standing on your head. Then you won’t worry about remembering the words.
- If you tend to get nervous, rehearse standing on the bed or in front of the mirror to simulate the situation. Line up objects around the room to represent people so you can practice moving your eye contact around the audience as you present.
- Work hardest on your first 3 minutes – then you’ll relax. But don’t read it like a script. It doesn’t matter if you say it differently each time.
- Time yourself – remember not to speak for too long and to leave lots of time for questions.
If you would like to know how positive psychology and neuroscience can enhance your presentations we can show you how. Contact us to find out about our courses.