Presentation Fundamentals
Illustration by Neil Webb

Practice makes perfect


From:

Presentation Fundamentals

with Tatiana Kolovou
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Video: Practice makes perfect

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell describes the 10,000 hour rule as the time it takes to master a skill. He insists that anyone can be good at something if they are dedicated to learning a skill and work hard to perfect it. Now delivering presentations is a skill you can master if you practice and prepare with passion and attention to detail. Here are some tips. Practice formally and informally. Ask a colleague if they don't mind listening to the general overview of your presentation and giving you some feedback.

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Watch the Online Video Course Presentation Fundamentals
1h 31m Appropriate for all May 12, 2014

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What makes a compelling presentation? A presentation that is built on strong research, tailored to your audience's interests, and designed to anticipate and answer questions about your message. In this course, author and Kelley Business School professor Tatiana Kolovou teaches you how to prepare strong business presentations. Learn how to find your story, appeal to logic and emotion, gain credibility, build a deck, and deliver a compelling presentation. Along the way, follow Katie, a young professional, as she prepares to give a presentation to the executives at her organization.

This course qualifies for 1.5 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.

Topics include:
  • Analyzing your audience
  • Strategizing for possible audience reaction
  • Building credibility with your audience
  • Collecting information
  • Organizing content
  • Designing slides
  • Practicing your presentation
  • Holding a Q&A session

  • The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
Subject:
Business
Author:
Tatiana Kolovou

Practice makes perfect

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell describes the 10,000 hour rule as the time it takes to master a skill. He insists that anyone can be good at something if they are dedicated to learning a skill and work hard to perfect it. Now delivering presentations is a skill you can master if you practice and prepare with passion and attention to detail. Here are some tips. Practice formally and informally. Ask a colleague if they don't mind listening to the general overview of your presentation and giving you some feedback.

Or tell you family about your topic over dinner. Or even leave an opening of your presentation to yourself on a voicemail. Your goal is to practice being conversational while keeping your main points and transitions in order. Do this practice run over lunch or on the phone without using visuals. Train your brain to remember the flow of your points. Even consider developing an image in your mind to help you remember the main points in the right order.

When you feel confident that you have the flow down, the transitions and the main points pretty well embedded in your head, it's time to do a dry run. It's better to do this in the same room or around the same conference table where you will be delivering your actual presentation, and with the same audio visual gear. Now ask someone to time you or even consider audio and videotaping yourself. There's a lot that you can learn when you hear and see yourself in action.

For example, are you using fillers, er, um, so, like? Are you walking about nervously rocking back and forth in your chair, or using and crossing your hands or legs as you stand in front of the audience? The mock practice run will also allow you to practice the Q & A section. Ask your friends to shout out questions that may come to mind, and practice some of those Q & A tips I mention later in the course.

The mock practice run should include visuals. Know what slides are coming up ahead, and be sure you practice with the visuals behind you. If you know that a point is complicated, a name is tough to pronounce, or a figure is tricky to remember, always use the visuals to your advantage. Place the tricky pieces in them and take a quick glance back at the screen with confidence. Practice in chunks. I always see speakers deliver dynamite introductions and fizzle-out endings at the end of their presentation.

The riddle is easily solved when you think of what is natural for all of us to do when we make a mistake as we practice. What do we do? We start over. Well, what happens is this gives you a lot of practice with the first few minutes of your content and doesn't do much to help you keep your energy up all the way to the close. Practice your content in 3's. Practice from the intro to the first point. Then take a break. Do something else. Go back to your practice time later.

Next start your practice from the second point all the way to the review of the third point. Do the same thing. Take a break. Walk away. Leave the overall review, the closing, and the transition to the Q & A as the last practice chunk. Any time you practice, time yourself to be sure and stay within your time allotment. Always plan to leave enough time for the Q & A section. Going a little too short is not a problem. Going too long and not allowing the audience to participate will not reflect positively on your presentation.

Now, although I don't recommend you spend 10,000 hours practicing your presentation, I do encourage you to take Malcolm Gladwell's point to heart and use practice to get close to perfect.

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