5 things Successful Presenters do to Prepare for their Presentations

In my work with clients, I’ve noticed that they sometimes ask about how much they need to prepare, how to stay on time, and whether they need to memorize their entire presentation.

So how do successful presenters prepare?

1.  They Spend Time Practising
No matter how effortless and off-the-cuff a great presentation appears, the successful presenter has always spent time practising the presentation using different words, different gestures, and different facial expressions. They have figured out what works.

2.  Their content is inside them so they can converse with their audience
Successful presenters do not memorize their presentations. By practising over and over in different ways, they get their presentation inside them. When they do the presentation, they are not reading their script nor are they robotically saying the words they have memorized. Rather they know their key points and converse with their audience about those topics. By not following a script of memorizing, they are able to deal with audience questions or other distractions without being pulled off track.

3.  They divide their longer presentations into segments and practice each segment individually
Successful presenters recognize that each speech has natural points of division. They take each segment individually and practice that until that part is inside them. They may spend abit more time and focus on the transition between one segment and the next. If there was anything to memorize, those transition sentences would be it. When I created videos for my clients, I recorded each segment over and over until I thought there was at least two good takes. That way each segment could be incorporated into a single video.

4.  They time each segment as they practise and edit to make sure they can finish a few minutes within the allotted time (indeed a few minutes earlier)
Successful presenters are aware of the time they have and edit and practice to finish a few minutes early. If they ask for questions or have audience participation, they include a generous estimate for that time as well. I was once at a presentation where the last speaker of the event went on for 30 minutes longer than she was scheduled. We were all squirming in our seats and had stopped listening to what she was saying. Not good.

5.  They have practised with the equipment and software they will be using
Successful presenters practise with their camera on, using the system they will be using on the day of their presentation. Ideally, they have an opportunity to practice with their co-host. Successful presenters don’t figure it out on the day of the presentation. I attended a presentation in March 2020, shortly after COVID started, where the presenter took 15 minutes of a 60-minute presentation figuring out how to share their slides. Similar to going over time, it felt like the presenter was wasting our time and really didn’t respect the audience.

If you want to prepare so you can be a successful speaker, remember to
• Spend time practising
• Know your content so you can converse with your audience
• Practise each segment individually
• Time each segment and plan to end a few minutes early
• Practise with the equipment and system you will use

Would you like to prepare like a successful speaker?

Send an email to brendabenham4@gmail.com with title “Weekly Email” to receive my weekly email with lots of tips about presenting.