The Sixth Step of Practice

Last week, I shared six steps to create a presentation that you will know without having to memorize. If you missed it, here’s a recap:

1) Jot down the basic outline of your presentation on index cards, one per idea or topic.

2) Compose your speech out loud. Don’t write it down first. As you find elements that work for you, you can make a note on an index card.

3) Practice in small chunks. In the shower, in the car, while you’re waiting in line. 

4) Whenever you are worried or anxious about the presentation, stop what you’re doing and go practice. Out loud. Even five minutes makes a difference.

5) Spend some focused time crafting your introduction, transitions, and closing. 

6) Rehearse out of order. Decide, “right now I’m only focusing on the third point,” and get that one down. Then jump to the introduction, or the first point. This will give you facility within your content.

I got some responses to this final step that made me want to go back and clarify what I mean. First, and I should have said this, don’t only practice out of order! When you’re getting close to the day of the presentation, do practice the whole thing in the correct sequence. 

Second, a major reason I suggest this is that when we only practice in order, the first part of the presentation tends to get more attention than the rest. It makes sense! We start with the introduction, get into the first section, maybe even push through the midpoint, and then we get interrupted (or run out of steam). That practice session is over. When you come back to it, you go back to the beginning. 

Shake it up! Divide your talk into sections and make sure each of them gets equal practice time. 

Walking the Dog

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