Over and over again I hear participants in my presentation skills training classes or colleagues in different organizations and companies complain that they don't have enough time to practice a presentation.
And I say...crap [or a nicer version, like baloney].
Lack of time to practice is a red herring, much more perception than reality.The truth is we're all busy but we find time for things we believe are important. The real issue is that most business presenters don't put enough [any?] importance on the value of rehearsing a presentation before delivering it.
Yet, practicing a presentation is the single biggest thing that can reduce anxiety, enhance confidence and maximize the likelihood that the audience will get value -- all things that are highly desirable outcomes for any presenter.
Here are my tips for finding some elusive time to practice a presentation:
- Change your perspective. Buy into the benefits of practice. Once it rises in importance on your 'to do' list, you'll find a way to re-prioritize other activities to find time to practice before a presentation.
- Take baby steps. Perhaps it's difficult to find a whole half hour or hour to practice the entire presentation. Find just a little time, say 5-10 minutes each day, and rehearse different sections.
- If time is scarce, be selective about what you practice. Focus on the most important parts of your presentation: the opening, the closing and the transitions. Focus on aspects of the presentation you're not as comfortable with. Leave the sections you know well for the end, in case you find more time.
- Take advantage of time when you are doing routine things that don't require all your attention: standing in line at the grocery store, exercising, driving to and from work. If you're in public, say your words in your head (never as good as practicing out loud but better than nothing). If you're alone, practice out loud. Don't worry so much about tone and inflection for these practice times, but concentrate on sentence structure, organization and clarity of information.
What other techniques have you found for carving out time to practice a presentation?
flickr/simpologist C.C. 2.0