9.3 Practising Your Delivery

There is no foolproof recipe for good delivery. You are a unique person, and you embody different experiences and interests from others. This means you have an approach, or a style, that is effective for you. It also means that your concern about what others think of you can cause anxiety, even during the most carefully researched and interesting presentation. There are some techniques you can use to minimize that anxious feeling, however, and put yourself in the best possible position to succeed on presentation day. You need to prepare for your presentation in as realistic a simulation as possible. What follows are some general tips to keep in mind, essentially all derived from one very straight-forward premise: Practice your presentation beforehand, at home or elsewhere, the way you will give it in person.

Practice Your Presentation Out Loud

Practice allows you to learn what to say, when and how to say it, but it also lets you know where potential problems lie. Since you will be speaking with a normal volume for your presentation, you need to practice that way, even at home. This not only helps you learn the presentation, but will help identify any places where you tend to mispronounce words or forget what’s coming next. Also, sentences on paper do not always translate well to the spoken medium. Practising out loud allows you to actually hear where you have trouble and fix it before getting up in front of the audience.

Practice Your Presentation Standing Up

You will likely be standing for your presentation so it’s best to practice it that way. As mentioned in more detail below, the default position for delivering a presentation is with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Practising this way, adding in natural movement and gestures, will help develop muscle memory and make it feel more natural when you are doing it for real.

Practice Your Presentation with an Audience

The best way to prepare for an audience watching your presentation is to have someone watch you practice. Ask your colleagues, friends, family, or significant other to listen while you run through what you will say. Not only will you get practice in front of a supportive audience, but you can also garner helpful feedback and resolve issues ahead of time. During practice, it may help to pick out some strategically placed objects around the room to occasionally glance at just to get into the habit of looking around more often and making eye contact with multiple people in your audience.

Practice Your Presentation for Time

You will generally have a time limit for presentations. As a rule of thumb, plan to have at least a 60-second “buffer” at the end of your presentation in case something comes up. For example, if your presentation is set for five minutes, plan for four. Should you rush through, make sure you can add more detail to the end of your presentation if needed. If an audience member has questions, you will still finish on time. With all of this in mind, practicing at least three times at home will help ensure your presentation is properly timed; practicing in front of an audience, even if only one friend, may provide the added benefit of alerting you as to how your pace may change if nerves kick in.

Practice Your Presentation by Filming Yourself

There is nothing that alerts you to a problem and encourages you to correct it faster than seeing yourself doing something you don’t like on video. By watching yourself, you will notice all the small things you do that might prove to be distracting during the actual presentation.

It is important enough that it deserves reiterating: Practice your speech beforehand, at home or elsewhere, the way you will give it on the scheduled day. You won’t regret it.

41. Practising Your Delivery” from Communication for Business Professionals by eCampusOntario is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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Talking Business Copyright © 2023 by Laura Radtke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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