What’s a common mistake people make when prepping to present?
Answer? Not rehearsing til you know you know it. (This is not the same as rote memorising, by the way.)
Being able to present is a life skill.
When you present it’s YOU, in front of your audience, whether 2 people or 2,000. You owe it to yourself and your professional reputation to give it your all; to do the best you can do, having done the right preparation. Never just wing it.
All successful actors study their craft. On a good day, their natural talent is operating. On a bad day, when they’re not feeling 100%, they fall back on their craft to deliver a superlative performance based on years of training.
Similarly, with presenting, rehearse, rehearse – but don’t memorise, (apart from your opening line to get you started and closing line to finish with confidence).
A common mistake with prepping is to just read and reread your notes or go through your slides over and over, convincing yourself you ‘know’ it. But better, is to put your notes aside, test your memory by rehearsing with authenticity and in “flow”.
You’ll find out not only what you know but also what you don’t know requiring restudy.
Testing you know your content gives peace of mind and certainty, which contributes to calming nerves.
Keyword palm cards are your rehearsal tool. On the day, these cards you can view just before going on, then place out of sight on the lectern or wherever as your ‘security blanket’. You know they are there in case of a mental blank, but it’s likely you’ll never pick them up while speaking.
Each time you rehearse, expect the flow of ideas to change a little. That’s natural. It shows you are navigating intuitively through the content; which is exactly what you want to do during the presentation.
As a case in point, I was booked for a customised presentation for a trade show exhibition company to deliver “Trade Show Selling” to their exhibitors.
I researched trade shows to observe what personnel on stands were doing right (and what they were doing wrong, for example, sitting with head bent, scrolling through their phone, not making eye contact with show foot traffic). Because I’d also ‘done the work’, rehearsed from memory – without memorising – the right words came out in logical flow. I was speaking with authenticity, without notes.
Do the work and the words will flow, off the cuff, in a natural way, so you can speak from the heart.