After the script and the slides for your presentation are ready, it’s time to think about training you, the presenter. This training for a presentation is critical to your success as a presenter
Besides preparing yourself to do the presentation, training also helps to reduce the anxiety and stress that can precede a major event.
It’s natural: many are intimidated by the thought of getting up on stage, and, because of this some can feel a bit insecure: What happens if there’s interference from the audience? What happens if nerves win out over competence?
This is why good preparation is so important: it helps to make a speaker more confident and relaxed and so increases the chances of success.
Training can include multiple steps:
1. Script and Slides as Support
Rely especially on the script, but also on the slides, to support you in thoroughly learning the speech. Start by using the full text to rehearse; then gradually remove text until you have only key words as cues. Instead of learning your presentation by heart, try to understand it first. If you know what you want to say, you can make room to ad lib how you say it. This is one of the best tools a presenter can have.
2. Macro Vision
When you feel comfortable with your speech, practice your presentation in computer “Slide Sorter” mode. Using as reference only the set of miniature slides, get a macro view (overview) of the speech and learn to become independent of the wording on the slides. Also, practice speaking in your own usual manner: this way you invest in the fluency of the presentation. The goal is to let your speech be free, having the slides only as support.
During training, try to identify the building blocks of your presentation and how they are interconnected. This is the macro view: each part has its own central message that is introduced both in the speech and the slides. (Comparing this with a DVD: it’s the same thing as viewing the small chapter images in Menu mode.)
3. Slides One by One
By now you should have good control of the presentation, so you’re ready to do a rehearsal in front of the large screen, moving the slides one by one. Pay attention to the timing of the slide animation in relation to the elements of your speech. Don’t forget to synchronize the animation with them.
And this is equally important: Don’t let the slides master you. Try to start each part of your speech moments before each slide is displayed. This way the audience will get the message that you know what you’re talking about.
4. Without Visual References
To complete the training, try to make the presentation without visual support. If you have difficulty with this, start by referring to some key slides, then remove them gradually during the training. When you can make your speech without any visual support at all, you have become totally independent of the slides, so now you’re ready to meet your public with confidence.
Try also to tell your story in 10% of the time you have to present it. This will force you to focus on only the key points.
As the last stage of the training, record your presentation and then listen to it or watch it to assess your performance. This critical evaluation can be done by you or by a third party (in recorded or live form). Just try not to do this step at the last minute – it’s far preferable to do this test well in advance, so you have time to make and practice necessary changes.