Presentation Skills 2: Rehearsal

We see no end of people who spend hours pouring over their bullet points but fail to rehearse properly for the presentation.

The old adage is as true now as it has always been.

“If you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail”

Rehearse your presentation and it will get better.

Sorry to sound like a bit of an old nag. It’s obvious – rehearsing – isn’t it? But it’s also a bit of a drag and one that is easy to forget. It is probably the most common mistake of all presentations that I have seen.

You wouldn’t dream of going to see a Shakespeare play at the RSC only to find that they hadn’t properly learnt the script. You wouldn’t dream of going to the opera to hear the band play out of time because they hadn’t got round to rehearsing properly. Yet in presentations and in speeches we see this happening all the time.

The impact of inadequate rehearsal on the audience

Rehearsing could make the difference between a good and an average presentation.

1. Plan to rehearse your presentation out loud at least 4 times.

We suggest that you should rehearse at least four times, and if you can get word perfect so much the better. I know that you haven’t got the time, but we have seen so many presentations that have been let down due to a lack of rehearsal.

Make sure that one of your rehearsals is in front of a really scary audience – family, friends, partners, colleagues; children. They will tell you quite plainly where you are going wrong – as well as providing you with the support that you need.

2. Rehearse against the clock

If you have to give a presentation in a short period of time then try to practice your presentation against the clock. This is particularly true with something like the five minute job presentation. You can add in parts from the script or take them out to fit the time. Allow extra time in your presentation for questions and watch out for nerves – this could mean that you talk faster on the day.

In the actual presentation you could take in a clock or take off your wrist watch and put it on the podium. This way you can see how the timings can develop.

3. Take a leaf out of Winston Churchill’s book – memorize your script.

He is widely attributed as being one of the great speakers. It took him six weeks to prepare his Maiden Speech in the House of Commons and he learnt it word perfect.

4. Video or tape record yourself

A very simple trick that could help you with your performance is to video or tape record yourself. This will give you some immediate feedback and will enable you to fine tune your performance.

Videoing a rehearsal is the staple of many presentation training companies – so why not save time and money and do it yourself?

Does it work? – Just read this bit of feedback from someone who got a new job using these techniques

“Then I practised, I think this is the key. I practised in front of my husband, my brother in law, my 12 year old daughter. Then my 4 year old son on the day, he wasn’t impressed, he just wanted me to put the telly on.

I blew their socks off!! he he

Definitely could not have done it without your help”

Rehearse and you will get better.

Click on this link below to take you to the third of the essentials.

>> Lesson 3. The rule of three >>


Published On: 20th Apr 2009

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1 Comment
  1. Very well said. I have my own experience. Whenever I rehearse I speak perfectly but whenever I don’t have the time, I measerbly failed.

    harish kumar gupta 3 Aug at 2:48 pm