My youngest daughter called last week to ask me how to prepare to present. She was preparing to speak to a couple of hundred people and was nervous. Everyone gets the jitters. She wasn’t alone. I haven’t met a presenter who didn’t get butterflies before presenting. However, the more you present, the easier it is for most.

You will mess up. You’ll omit, forget, and ramble. It’s no big deal unless you make it one. Your audience doesn’t know, so don’t tell them. Don’t apologize for your mistakes. Take deep breaths, look toward the audience—even if it’s a spot on the wall—and smile.

If you’re prepared and you take the time to practice, presenting can be a fun, rewarding, and fulfilling experience. It’s a proven sales and marketing tool. And if you really want to learn a subject — present it. I promise you’ll gain more than your audience.

How to Prepare to Present

Outline the Presentation

Although it can be done, I’d advise against writing your presentation word for word. This adds a level of difficulty and often comes off stiff and phony. Make an outline, bullet the key points, and add thoughts. Please don’t try to do it ab-lib with an off-the-cuff talk because you will ramble.

Avoid a Boring Lecture

If you want to avoid being boring, ask questions throughout your presentation. How can more questions be added? Review every statement in your outline and ask if it would improve the presentation if rewritten as a question. Use open-ended questions — why, how, and what to solicit more than yes and no answers. Walk around the room before the presentation, introduce yourself, and then ask questions pertaining to your presentation. If you like their answer, ask them if you can call on them during the presentation.

Tell Stories

Give examples, personal experiences, and third-party stories. Stories can add credibility and help define your subject. Human beings like stories. Should you tell humorous stories? You can, but you don’t have to tell jokes unless it’s appropriate and you’re good at it.

Use Multimedia

Grab as many of your audience’s senses as you can. Have something to put in their hands, such as a brochure, or give them a fill-in-the-blank sheet or action plan, and use Prezi or PowerPoint.

Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice and then practice some more. I can’t say it enough. The best way to overcome fear of failure is preparation. Don’t only practice until you get it right — practice until you can’t get it wrong.

I’ve been asked how I prepare myself immediately before I present. Do I listen to certain music, meditate, or have a cocktail? I’ve tried all three, but what works best for me is to rehearse my opening on the way to the presentation, arrive early, and meet the audience. If you’re prepared and comfortable with your audience, you’ll do well. Do you give presentations? How do you prepare?

How Can I Help?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Would you like to learn more about adding action to your words? If so, you might enjoy my book, You Can’t Talk Shit Done.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like  4 Steps to Preparing a Killer Presentation

Photo by Product School on Unsplash