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Practice Your Presentation

Trying To Explain

o Here’s How!

We’re familiar with the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” It doesn’t!

Perfect practice makes perfect.” That rarely occurs.

The best attitude on the topic of Practice is: “The road to perfection is a journey, not a destination.”

Steve Jobs, who many consider one of the best presenters ever, would practice for weeks before giving a presentation introducing a new product or service at an Apple event.

Bands that have been together for over thirty years still rehearse (practice) before performing.

Why in the world would someone take a “Speaking Opportunity” and just wing it?

Practicing is not optional. Before looking at ways to practice, it’s important to remember a presentation has two components.

  1. Content

  2. Delivery

Delivery trumps content. You may have the greatest content in the world, but if it’s not delivered to your audience in a manner that educates, entertains, and explains it simply to them, they’ll never GET IT!

GETTING IT! is the goal of all communication; verbal, written, or visual.

The Delivery component has two parts.

1. Verbal elements.

2. Non-Verbal elements.

Non-Verbal trumps verbal. We believe what we see.

Before looking at ways to practice, let’s make the assumption you’ve nailed your content. It’s been revised numerous times and is ready for the delivery component.

On to your Practice!

Practice Out Loud.

  1. When composing, reviewing, and editing your content, you naturally did some “practicing in your mind.”

  2. Practicing in your “Mind’s Eye” only goes so far. You must hear yourself.

  3. It’s not just what your say, but how you say it that conveys the meaning of your message you want the audience to understand.

  4. Enunciation and Pronunciation, Projection, Inflection, Cadence, and Pausing are all Verbal Elements of Communication you must be aware of and Practice.

  5. Personal Story: I once had an employee pass away. It was a sad day because he was a great person, and was only forty years old. The day of the memorial service, with the hope there would be an opportunity to say something about him, I started rehearsing, in my mind, what I would say.

  6. I had it well organized and was looking forward to the service, which would start in several hours.

  7. I decided to practice out loud. I couldn’t get through my talk! Suddenly, I realized how much his sudden death had affected me. Because it was a tragic situation, it would have been okay to cry at the service. But that would have distracted from the message I wanted to give those who gathered to celebrate his life. Fortunately, I had enough time to ‘practice out loud’ enough times to be able to control my emotions when it was my turn to speak. It went very well for two reasons. I spoke from my heart, and I had practiced out loud. Comments from his family affirmed my ‘prep work’ had the results I intended.

Make an Audio Recording of your talk.

  1. Listening to yourself intently will expose areas that need your attention.

  2. Are you enunciating and pronouncing all words distinctly?

  3. Do you mumble or slur words?

  4. Are you projecting your voice to the back of the room?

  5. How is your cadence?

  6. Are you varying it and not speaking too quickly or too slowly?

  7. If you have an accent, regional or other, will the audience clearly understand you?

  8. Don’t assume by listening once you’ve GOT IT! and you will make the needed corrections when presenting to the audience.

  9. Record – Listen – Note areas for improvement – Repeat previous steps!

Practice in front of a Full Length Mirror.

  1. As previously stated, your NonVerbal Communication will trump what you say. We believe what they see. Look at yourself as you present and adjust accordingly.

  2. These include: Facial Expressions, Gestures, Posture, and Body Movements.

  3. They must be in sync with your message, and can enhance your delivery.

  4. Practice these and exaggerate if you’ll be speaking to a large audience.

  5. Be aware: All gestures are not universal! The difference in meanings can be viewed as offensive by some attendees.

  6. NonVerbal communication also has an involuntary component. The audience believes what they see!

  7. If you are one of those folks who ‘roll your eyes’ when you hear or see something you disagree with or think is silly – keep it in check!

Make a Video of your talk.

  1. With video, you’ll be able to evaluate your verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

  2. Renting a studio is not necessary, With your cell phone or tablet, mounted in a position to completely capture you, an excellent recording can be made.

  3. One of my coaching clients used his iPad to record his practice. Sitting side-by-side evaluating the recording, he “saw” what I was praising and the segments where I saw room for improvement.

Practice in front of Friends and Family.

  1. Encourage them to give you suggestions for improving your presentation.

  2. Lots of “That-a-boys” feel great, but they don’t better your performance.

  3. Suggestion: Ask them to offer “Two things you can work on to improve your presentation.”

  4. Present to your Toastmaster Club.

  5. If you’re not in one – Join!

If your presentation includes Slides, practice ad-nauseam with them!

  1. It’s best to have a remote control that controls everything: Forward – Back – Volume, and with a “B” (blank the screen) Button on it. (‘Blanking the screen’ takes the eyes of the audience from the screen to you!)

  2. Hopefully, your slides have high quality graphics and very little text.

  3. You supply the text and your presentation will be better!  (It takes lots of practice!)

Important Points

The Law of Primacy and Recency says the audience best remembers the first and last things they see and hear. Memorize and rehearse, many times, your Opening and Closing.

Your delivery should be conversational. Each person in the audience should feel you are speaking to them.

Consider using a Mind Map or Slides as your ‘Notes.’

We tend to practice what we do well, and avoid the parts of our presentation we don’t excel in delivering. These could be super important to your message. Be certain to practice the Sticky Spots of your presentation. They’re Sticky for a reason; poor use of words, structure, or ?

Fix them!

Rewrite if necessary.

Change specific words to make it easier to say.

Meditate and “See” yourself at ease, confident, and the audience watching and listening intently to you.

  1. “See” yourself, from start to finish, paying attention to all the verbal and non-verbal elements of your presentation.

Practice till you have it, so the audience will GET IT!

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”  –  Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

Follow the above suggestions for practicing your presentation and I guarantee it will be absolutely, positively – NO SWEAT!


About the Author Fred E. Miller is a speaker, a coach, and the author of the book, “No Sweat Public Speaking!”

Businesses, Individuals, and Organizations hire him because they want to improve their Networking, Public Speaking, and Presentation Skills.

They do this because they know:

Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

They also know: We perceive really great speakers to be Experts. Perception is reality, and we like to work with Experts.

He shows them how to: Develop, Practice, and Deliver ‘Knock Your Socks Off Presentations!’ with – NO SWEAT!


  1. Keynote Speaker

  2. Workshop Facilitator

  3. Breakout Sessions

  4. Public Speaking and Presentation Coaching Topics:

  5. Lessening The Fear of Public Speaking with – NO SWEAT!

  6. Crafting Your Elevator Speech, Floor by Floor with – NO SWEAT!

  7. Speaking Opportunities are Business, Career, and Leadership Opportunities.

  8. We are All Self-Employed!


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