Public speaking tips #6: Rehearse and visualise your presentation
Here’s a quick summary of where you should be:
- Once you have written the content of your presentation, check that it matches your assessment criteria.
• Amend any content so that it is relevant to the aims and objectives.
• Organise the layout so that it has a distinct beginning, middle and end.
• Adjust the content so that it fits into any time constraints.
With most of the boxes being ticked, you can now practise (rehearse) your presentation. Some people like to start with a script and condense it down to a few key points. This will involve familiarising some of the content so that keywords can be placed on a hand-sized card/bullet points in PowerPoint. This “condensing” process can help you to recall some of the material from the notes yet still maintain the planned structure (since it’s easy to lose your place!) The condensing stage is important because it stops you “reading from a script” with your head and eyes in your notes throughout the whole presentation.
Public speaking tips: Visualise your presentation going well
Now that you are familiar with the content, visualise giving a confident presentation. That’s right, close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and imagine being in the situation with everything going well. So, imagine all that you would talk about, feel and see in your audience. Thinking positively means just that! Many people “think” they are thinking positively, when all they are doing is taking their mind to the place that they don’t want to go! Most “positive” thinking in default mode ends up reinforcing the negatives, or it involves anxious worrying about a situation.
The process of positive visualisation (thinking) involves giving your mind something to focus on. You can work towards this image by converting your internal (anxiety) symptoms and what is happening around you into positive outcomes.
When you are anxious what happens?
- Breathing is rapid and short– visualise giving your presentation breathing slowly and deeply and at regular intervals.
- Voice becomes quiet and throat feels constricted– visualise speaking with a loud multi-tonal voice and the throat feeling relaxed.
• Legs feel like jelly and hands shake – visualise your legs feeling strong and hands feeling relaxed.
And so on… Then visualise converting some of your “external” anxieties:
- The audience look bored– visualise the audience looking interested and stimulated by your content and use of voice control. Imagine them being on your side!
• You fear losing your place – visualise using a prompt card that helps you to move seamlessly from one point to another.
• You fear some technology not working – visualise keeping calm and apologising for the “technical issue”. Explain what your audience would have seen as a contingency plan.
Visualisation and rehearsals can be done in front of a mirror. You may even wish to practise using a video camera or a trustworthy audience (e.g. your family). With each rehearsal you will build up a positive template and expectation for how you will present on the actual day. This has the effect of lowering your anticipatory anxiety and helps you to feel like the presentation is a natural part of what you do.
Make It A Champion Day!