How to Practice Your Presentation

How should you practice for a presentation? 

It is not enough to just sit at your desk and flip through your notes or slides.  Practice means you actually say the words out loud in as close to the real environment as possible. If you are going to be presenting sitting, you practice sitting. If you are going to be presenting standing, when you practice, you should be standing, and you should say the words out loud.
(And I even recommend doing a dress rehearsal, particularly if it’s new content, a new audience or venue, or a high-stakes presentation.  A dress rehearsal means practicing in the actual room, with the full slides and microphone set up, in the actual clothes you are going to present in.)

Your goal is not to memorize your material, but to get comfortable enough with your material and comfortable enough with delivering your material in that environment that you can present naturally and effectively. You won’t get thrown off by being in a new room and you won’t get tripped up by having to use a microphone or PowerPoint remote control.

Practice Your Introduction, Transitions and Conclusion
When you practice, focus on your introduction, your transitions and your conclusion. Your introduction is your golden opportunity to catch the audience’s attention and communicate your message clearly from the beginning.

Also practice your transitions between points and between slides.  Transitions are often where speakers get stuck because while they know the points they want to make, they don’t know how to relate them to each other. Practice simple transitions like, “the second point is,” or “on the other hand,” or “the reason I recommend this action is...” 

Finally, your conclusion is your last opportunity to drive home your message, help the audience understand why it is important, and encourage them to act on it. So practice how you will end your presentation strongly so the audience knows you are done, rather than just trailing off with, “uh, and I guess that’s it…”

Practice will help you be more comfortable and confident when presenting to your audience, which will help you communicate your message more effectively.
by Gilda Bonanno
Gilda Bonanno's blog