After attending a recent conference, I realized something – not everyone practices their presentations beforehand!
There are definitely some benefits to practicing giving your presentation, especially if you are a new speaker and are going out in front of people for the first time.
Here are some things you might want to practice and/or finesse before the actual presentation:
- Hook up a laptop to a projector and actually go through your slides. Figure out the simple stuff – things like how to open up the presentation, how to advance the slides, etc. I know – this seems pretty basic. But I’ve seen really smart people sorta freeze when they suddenly have to stand in front of a lot of people and fumble around with files and folders, or an unfamiliar laptop. Sometimes even just advancing slides can be weird if you’ve never really done it before. So practicing those simple things beforehand is a good thing to do.
- Presenter Notes. If you use presenter notes, know where those are, how to scroll through them if you have a lot of notes, etc. Again, pretty basic stuff … until you are standing in front of 100 people, can’t see that last point you wanted to make, and your mind suddenly goes blank about how to scroll down to that last point. Yikers!
- Time your talk. Actually practice your presentation out loud. Make sure you don’t go over time. Especially if you are on a panel, or in a session with multiple speakers. Also work on pacing the other way – if you have 45 minutes for your talk, you don’t want to finish in 20 minutes. I set an alarm on my iPhone that goes off about 10 minutes before the end of my time. That way, I know I need to wrap up, and give a couple of minutes for questions at the end of my talk.
- Practice that tech stuff. Showing a video? Make sure you know how to play it, how the audio will work, etc. Showing off a website or a database? Know how to bounce out of your presentation to show the site, and then be able to bounce back into your presentation to continue.
- Check the tech before you start. Test the microphone. If it has an on/off switch, test it out. Is there a clicker to advance slides? Test it out.
Ever had a problem when you gave a presentation? What was it? I’d love to know!