“How often should I practice my presentation?”

I get asked this question a LOT by my students, my clients, and the participants in my Create A Signature Speech That Sells program — so I wanted to share the answer that I typically give.

Question: “What’s the rule-of-thumb for how often I should practice my presentation? I want to be very familiar with my content, but don’t want it to look too memorized.”

Answer: There is no magic number that dictates how often you should practice prior to your presentation. However, you probably want to practice however often it takes for you to become comfortable enough with your content so that you won’t have to rely on notes or PowerPoint slides to get you through it. But make no practicingmistake….you simply cannot shine as a speaker if you don’t make the time to practice.

That means that you need to rehearse and practice often enough for it to really stick in your head. Give your presentation in front of a mirror, a video camera, your mastermind group, or some friends or colleagues who will give you honest (or is the right word “brutal”?) feedback. Even recording yourself on an audio recorder and listening to yourself will help you internalize it.

If it’s a long speech and you can’t pull out a full hour (or more) of your day to rehearse, then break up your rehearsal into smaller, more manageable segments, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes at a time.  And there are so many ways to rehearse: In the shower, while washing dishes, in front of a mirror, on the drive to work. Put sticky notes up all over your wall, and rehearse it that way.

At the same time, you need to practice with an eye on your delivery style. Do you fidget? Do you smile? Do you sway from side-to-side? Only through practice and experience will you get an idea of what you look like when you’re in front of an audience.

This way, you’ll monitor both what you say, and how you say it, so that you can master the content AND delivery of your presentation, and work towards engaging your audience throughout your whole speech.

For clarity, for confidence, for control: you need to rehearse as often as possible to really shine as a speaker!

How often do you practice before a presentation? What ‘guidelines’ do you follow?


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