Public speaking question — “How often should I practice?”

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.”  – James, Calgary

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.  At the same time, practice with an eye on your delivery style. Do you fidget?  Do you smile and look around the room?  Do you sway from side-to-side?  Give your presentation in front of a mirror, a video camera, or some friends or colleagues who will give you honest feedback. 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.   

Congratulations on building in some practice time into your preparations, and not ‘winging it.’  You’ll be more in control, feel less nervous, and look like a real professional.  

Do you have a question about public speaking? Email your questions to  and I’ll answer it in a future blog post.
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