BIG Presentation Secret No.10: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse


So what’s this week’s secret?

When do you do your rehearsal?

Come on, be honest. When do you usually rehearse for your BIG Presentation?

The majority of us leave it until the last possible moment. Usually a few nights before the BIG day. It’s also not unusual for these people to be up late the evening before the BIG Presentation frantically revising, much like a lazy student before a final exam.

The truth is that if you’re rehearsing late the night before your BIG Presentation then you’ve already failed. Not much is going to stick in your mind late at night. Your tired mind will be getting more and more nervous, plus, the late night and lack of sleep will only make you more tired for your BIG Presentation the next day.

By rehearsing late the night before a BIG Presentation you are increasing your chances of failure.

So how do we avoid this and become ace BIG Presentation Preparers?

How do we use this secret?

Why should we rehearse?

Rehearsal not only helps us to remember what we want to say, but perhaps more importantly, it allows us to practice ‘how’ we say it.

We generally ‘um’ or ‘er’ when we are searching for the right words to say. If we rehearse, we begin to get a common set of words, or lines that we can use each time we run through the presentation.

The result is a presentation that flows much more easily as it is without of all of those ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ we would have been slipping in if we had not rehearsed.

How should we rehearse?

The very best rehearsal is aloud in front of an audience that will give you honest and constructive feedback. However, it’s not often that we have this luxury.

So, the next best option is to grab your handy smartphone or video camera and film yourself delivering your BIG Presentation.

This technique makes most of us feel incredibly uncomfortable, but seeing yourself on film is the quickest way to improve your speech delivery. You can quickly see where you can improve, and make those positive changes!

Most of us fear the camera because we believe that we’ll see a bumbling, nervous speaker.

That’s just our inner negativity speaking – in fact, the majority of speakers actually are pleasantly surprised when they see themselves speaking – much better than their imagined self-image!

What about notes?

Good question. Ok, first up, there’s no harm in using notes during a presentation. Every member of your audience would rather watch a great presentation with you using notes, than a car crash presentation without your notes.

Whilst you are learning your BIG Presentation, it’s best to start with detailed notes, even a full script if you feel it is right.

From there, gradually edit down your notes each time that you rehearse, until eventually your notes consist of just a few key lines that prompt you onwards through your speech.

Your mind will be prompted by these key words as during the rehearsal process it has grouped and contained the rest of your ‘full’ script within them. Just seeing them will trigger your memory and set you off on your way through your BIG Presentation.

If you struggle with words, or are more of a visual person, try switching your written notes for symbols that will prompt you. When you’re on stage, it’s all about finding the format that works best for you!

Any other tips?

Yep, finding time to fit in rehearsals can be tough (especially if your BIG Presentation is a 45 minute epic!).

If you find it difficult to fit practice into your day, look at splitting your BIG Presentation into bite size rehearsal chunks. This allows you to practice smaller parts of your BIG Presentation (taking less time) and is also a great way to identify the strongest and weakest sections of your BIG Presentation.

If your sections work well in isolation, then they’ll be nice and clear to your audience. If they don’t make much sense by themselves, then your audience might not see the single point you are trying to make, and you need to check your signposting.

Further reading