How To Practice A Presentation: 5 Expert Tips

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How to practice a presentation

Picture this: it’s 2007, the final Harry Potter book is released and everyone is wearing those low-rise skinny jeans and other questionable fashion choices. 

But perhaps one of the most memorable events of 2007 was when Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld to introduce the first ever iPhone. 

A hush fell over the crowd. Literally. 

Steve Jobs commanded the room with his quiet presence, witty humor, and patient swagger. He captivated his audience, earning several laughs, gasps, and rounds of applause. One of the most renowned presenters of the 21st century, many out there chalk it up to pure talent. 

Well, they’d be wrong. 

Not to say he wasn’t talented, of course, but there’s more to it. 

The true reason behind his enormous success as a public speaker was the countless hours of practice he put in beforehand. 

Although his speeches look and feel natural, they were actually rehearsed for days leading up to the presentation.

As it often goes, the more natural it looks, the more rehearsed it is.

For Steve Jobs, practicing meant locking himself and his team in a room for two or more days and rehearsing nonstop, often till midnight. 

That may not be the best way to practice for everyone, but it seemed to work pretty well for him. 

Because here’s the truth: things are going to go awry. We’re only human! Mistakes will be made: tech glitches, typos, heckling, or whatever it may be. Practice your presentation ahead of time will so you can stay in the present, level-headed and calm, when those mistakes do occur. 

Now, you just have to get out there and do it. 

We have five tips and tricks for the best ways to practice your presentation, enhance your speaking skills, and become your most confident self. 

It’s time to channel your inner speaker and work that stage like no one else.

What Is the Best Way to Practice a Presentation?

This isn’t the answer you want but it’s the right answer. One that every TED speaker, actor, and famous speaker uses: repetition. 

The more you practice a presentation, the more confident you’ll become, the easier it will be, and the more professional and polished you’ll look to others. Fact.

Even though repetition is the best way, our 5 tips below will help you make each rehearsal even more effective!

Tip #1: Find Your Why

For a vast majority of people, speaking in front of an audience can feel almost as daunting as jumping off a cliff. 

In the same vein, a fear of public speaking can often get in the way of practicing your presentation, often showing up as avoidance behaviors like procrastination. 

Of course, sometimes you just don’t want to practice or can think of a million other things to be doing with your time. Or sometimes you just “doom-scroll” endlessly on your phone.. 

Frankly, finding the motivation to practice a presentation is sometimes harder than the rehearsal itself. 

So, to jump over that hurdle, Moxie asks their clients the following question: 

How is your presentation helping your audience? 

Your answer may just become your main motivator. 

There are two main sources of motivation for human beings: extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivators come from external sources: trophies, a boss’s orders, or what may be expected of you. Intrinsic motivators, on the other hand, come from within, for example, your desire to move up in your company. 

Your intrinsic motivators will take you further than an extrinsic one, and that’s just the truth. So, dig deep and find your internal motivation do you: 

  • Enjoy this work and want to share it with others?
  • Want to educate people and create change?
  • Want people to be excited about your new product/service?
  • Want to make a good impression and boost your reputation?

Moxie believes that all public speakers and performers, in general, are service-oriented individuals. 

You have dedicated yourself to giving this speech, teaching others, inspiring them, or changing their lives. You are literally in a position of service. 

The more you can focus on how you’re contributing and serving your audience as well as the why behind it, the easier practicing will be. 

Ask yourself this: how will your contribution, your presentation, improve their lives? 

If that’s not a motivator, who knows what is? 

Once you’ve found your why, hold on real tight when things get uncomfortable and hard. Let that be your guiding light.

Tip #2: Schedule Everything And Practice

A public speaking zen question: If you made plans to practice but didn’t put it in your calendar, did you ever really make plans? 

We get it. You’re busy. And when you have a packed schedule and little time to yourself, the likelihood of practicing your presentation steadily decreases with each passing day. 

Before long you check your calendar and realize the big day is here, and you’ve only rehearsed once, if that. 

But here’s the thing: if you schedule practice sessions in your calendar, between meetings or picking up the kids from school, you are much more likely to follow through and actually do it. 

It’s just a fact: assigning deadlines will help you commit. Once they’re set, stick to them—no matter how badly you don’t want to. Canceling or rescheduling, unless it’s an emergency, is a further act of procrastination and denial. 

Of course, if it’s a last-minute presentation, you won’t have as much time to rehearse. But even if you found out 24 hours beforehand, remember that a few minutes of practice is better than none. 

Imagine someone asking you to play a game you’ve never heard of. Literally even one minute of Googling the rules or watching a video of someone playing will put you in a significantly better position than if you showed up having done nothing to prepare. 

Carving out an hour to run through your presentation or even a few minutes to jot down your thoughts on the structure will always make a difference and always be worth it. 

You’ve committed to this presentation. You have to commit to practicing as well.

Tip #3: Prepare to Change the Channel

Back in the olden days, when humans foraged and hunted during the day and slept in caves at night, we developed a “negativity bias” to survive. 

This negativity bias was crucial to our survival, because, essentially, it kept us from doing stupid things. For example, back then if you heard a rustle in the bushes, it could be something as docile as a bird or something as dangerous as a sabertooth tiger. 

Would you investigate, or would you run inside? Most of our brains would say: “Don’t get closer! You might get killed! Get ready for disaster!” 

Because of this negativity bias, we are predisposed to crave comfort and the safety of what we’ve known. Even though sabertooth tigers are no longer a daily threat, our brains still act as if they are. 

In fact, our brains are unable to tell the difference between a perceived threat and a real threat. 

So, if you have a fear of public speaking, standing up on that stage may literally feel just as terrifying as facing a tiger. 

“Don’t do it! You could mess up in front of everyone! Get ready for disaster!” 

In order to truly live, however, you have to learn how to change the channel and stop tuning in to those negative thoughts. 

Fia Fasbinder, Moxie’s CEO, calls this voice the “really bad DJ on a radio station called K-CRAP station.” And she couldn’t be more right. 

On top of stopping us from living life to the fullest, negative self-talk can speed up cognitive decline

So, it’s time to change that channel. Negative thoughts are a part of life, but learning to manage them is crucial for a successful presentation. 

There are several methods to curb negative thoughts, like breathing techniques and movement. But one great trick is to turn a negative into a positive!

  • I don’t know how to do this → It’s an opportunity to learn something new!
  • Everyone’s going to watch me fail → Everyone makes mistakes and respect those who push through anyway! 
  • I hate this and I suck → I will enjoy it more and improve if I keep trying 

Applying a positive twist to negative thoughts is a great way to change the channel and turn off that K-CRAP radio!

Tip #4: Just Show Up

“Just Do It” is the slogan that can be seen on billboards, t-shirts, shoes, and pretty much anything all over the world. 

And many think the phrase is the first step to motivating yourself to getting started with something. 

But there’s actually a step before. 

Instead of “Just Do It”, the phrase we insist every client follows is: “Just Show Up” 

Because the hardest part of doing anything is simply showing up. Anyone who has ever gone to the gym can surely agree with that.

Here’s an example, when faced with something daunting like say, a one hour fitness class, “Just Do It” tells your brain “Just do the one hour fitness class”. This conjures up a lot of imagined fears and issues, discomfort, sweating, etc. 

Kinda hard to leave your home for that. 

But if you think “Just Show Up”, suddenly the mental image is simply you getting there.

All you have to do is show up. Once you’re there, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll talk yourself out of it and it’s more likely that you’ll feel motivated to see it through. 

The same applies to practice. 

Picking a specific spot to practice in can be yet another motivator. By showing up to that spot (once it’s been scheduled on your calendar, of course), you’re telling yourself that it’s time to start practicing. 

You’re there, so you might as well get it done. 

Now, you may not enjoy practicing, and that’s okay. Just like working out or ticking off that difficult task on your to-do list, you’ll feel better because you did it. 

Instead of saying, “No, I don’t like practicing,” what if you changed that rhetoric to, “I may not like practicing, but I do like having practiced.” 

Once it’s done, you will feel better. Who has ever regretted practicing? 

You will feel more accomplished and prepared for the presentation to come.

Tip #5: Get Help To Hold Yourself Accountable

As humans, we’re better together. An ancient proverb puts it this way:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

There’s a reason why people often run in pairs or packs. It’s so easy to give up on yourself, but it’s much harder to disappoint others. 

Having an accountability partner guarantees that you will do the hard things even when you don’t want to. Who would leave their running buddy alone out in the early-morning cold just for a few more minutes in bed? 

Aside from that, accountability partners also provide community and social connection. By becoming part of a team, you’re further investing in yourself and your community, as well as the work you produce. 

It’s hard enough to do the things we don’t want to do on our own. 

When we have someone relying on us to get it done and cheering us up along the way, it’s so much easier to hold onto our why and keep going. 

Ideally, your partner would also have a project they’re working on that you could hold them accountable for too. It’s even better if they have some skin in the game with your presentation, i.e. they work in the same division as you or have related knowledge. 

You want a partner who won’t sugarcoat things or hand out participation trophies. A little bit of tough love goes a long way in an accountability partner. They won’t be doing you any good if they listen to every excuse and justification you’ve listed. 

Find someone to help you cross the finish line, and then help them too.

To Practice A Presentation Is To Master Your Mind

The key to learning how to practice a presentation comes down to discipline and motivation.

  1. Your why will act as the motivation you need to produce great work
  2. Your schedule will keep you on track
  3. Changing the channel in your head to positivity will encourage you
  4. Just showing up will motivate you to try
  5. An an accountability partner will ensure you follow through 

For an extra helping hand, Moxie offers public speaking and presentation skills workshops and classes, one-on-one coaching, and even a Rehearsal Bootcamp—talk about taking it up a notch! 

It’s time to show up and get the work done. You can do it!

 

TAKE THE FIRST STEP TO MASTER POWERFUL NEW SKILLS

Schedule an easy 30-minute call using our calendar. We’re here to help!

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