How to Better Prepare for Presentations

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of teaching students of my former university. Another word for former university is alma mater. (I’ve always wanted to use that word. It sounds fancy.)

The workshop was titled Communication Skills for the Workplace, where I taught them the basics of writing effective emails, speaking tips and presentation skills.

One of the things the students were taught was visualisation, and how it’s helpful for any situation–whether it’s for a presentation, a performance or just about anything you’re about to face that’s difficult.

It’s the technique of visualising, or imagining the situation that you’re going to face.

If you need to present, you imagine yourself standing in front of the audience and speaking to them.

It sounds fancy and complicated, but it’s something easy that you can do. You’ve probably been doing it already.

Although there’s no proper framework for visualisation, here’s how you can start or make your visualisations even better.

1. Set the stage.

If you need to present to an audience, find out where the venue will be. You can visit the venue and stand where you’ll be standing. If this is not possible, try to get pictures or ask the organiser what the room will be like.

2. Find out who your audience is.

It’s important to know who your audience will be. This is so that you can imagine what they look like, imagine yourself speaking to them, the reactions that they will have and also to know what would be interesting to them.

3. Imagine!

Now that you know your audience, visualise yourself standing in front of them in the room you’ll be presenting. Imagine yourself speaking to them confidently, expressing your ideas, making gestures and getting them interested in what you have to say. Doing this will help you gain confidence.

After visualising, of course, you’ll need to prepare and practice.

If you’re like me, you don’t like preparation and practice. You just want to get the presentation over and done with.

But never underestimate the power of preparing and practicing. You may think that visualising is enough, but you need to get it out of your head.

Find a room where you’re alone. Speak in front of a mirror if you like. Or if you can find a willing audience to listen to you practice, that’s even better. Again, visualise yourself speaking to the audience.

When you practice out loud, you can identify where you struggle, or what you need to elaborate more on. You’ll also be able to pinpoint the parts where you need to obtain more information. Perhaps your presentation is too long, or too short. Make the necessary changes then.

It’s through listening to yourself that you’re able to improve and gain the confidence you need.

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