What is Presentation Rehearsal?
“Picasso didn’t wait until he was Picasso to perform like Picasso”.Robin Sharma
Have you ever been on stage to give a presentation? If yes, have you ever just thought ‘I should have prepared more thoroughly’ or ‘Maybe I should have just written everything down or read directly’. Do you wonder why such thoughts appear in your head?
This is because you are not well-rehearsed or may even be unsure about your material. There are too many emotions at the same time such as nervousness, fear of messing up or even just going completely blank on stage.
Presentation rehearsal is when the speaker that is also the presenter in this case prepares himself by practising his presentation to get the knack of his skill.
Why is Rehearsing for the Presentation Important?
To master the art of giving a flawless presentation the key is to practice or rehearse before the grand finale that is your presentation.
Rehearsal is an imperative step to give a satisfactory presentation. Why is that you may ask even though a presentation can be given without rehearsal?
To answer your question, yes you can give a presentation even without rehearsal or practice but that presentation won’t be as marvellous as the one with practice.
Also, there is a high possibility that you may end up messing with the presentation because of a few mistakes here and there. This can be avoided by rehearsing.
Advantages of Rehearsing for a Presentation
When you rehearse your presentation you will:
- build up your confidence
- be familiar with your material
- administer your learning of public speaking to assess what works for you and what doesn’t
- know where you are lacking and this will help correct your mistakes
- make your content even more comprehensive by cutting out the unnecessary things
- become skilled and polished
- master body language
- will be able to complete on time
How Long Should You Practice for a Presentation?
The presenter can practice for 1-hour keeping in mind all the other factors such as rough outline, slides and time. The presenter must time everything accordingly and then practice.
She/he can also calculate and rehearse. For instance, if your presentation is for 20 minutes you can rehearse for 80 minutes straight.
|Time of the presentation
|Time one should rehearse
|20 Minutes presentation
|80 Minutes practice
|30 Minutes presentation
|90 Minutes practice
|40 Minutes presentation
|1 Hour practice
|50 Minutes presentation
|1.10 hour practice
Rehearsing can also depend on how satisfied you are with your performance and so time may differ respectively. There is no certain limit as to how long you can rehearse.
How Many Times Should You Rehearse a Presentation?
The presenter can practice their presentation a minimum of 3 times and a maximum of 10 times. The more you rehearse the better the results. And like it’s rightly said, ‘Practice makes a man perfect”.
Rehearse your presentation from start to end including the slides of your presentation. Only speaking may not be that effective as compared to when you rehearse with your presentation included.
A tip would be that if it is possible and you have time at your hand then start practising 10 days before your presentation. Practice 1 time through your entire presentation every day at the least. The results will astound you.
Presentational Rehearsal Checklist
Follow this step by step list to know what you need to tick of when rehearsing for a presentation.
- Commence with taking presentation notes
- Accustom yourself with your material
- Rehearse with your presentation
- Time your presentation
- Rehearse out loud
- Rehearse in front of a mirror
- Voice record your practice
- Video record your practice
- Rehearse in front of a single person
- Rehearse in front of an audience
- Preparing for the ‘if’ situation
- Experiment with your presentation
- Pay a visit to the location where you will be presenting
1. Commence with taking presentation notes
PowerPoint has a feature in which the presenter can write his notes at the bottom of the slide. Given below is an example of where to add notes in your presentation.
These notes will not be visible on the slideshow but only to you when you are presenting in presenter mode.
Put your entire statements into bullet points which will make it easy to present your presentation.
While rehearsing don’t just mug up the script but understand it. Even if you forget your script you can refer to these points while presenting and this won’t create a blunder.
2. Accustom yourself with your material
While rehearsing, presenters often face the problem of ‘Where should I start from?’
Start from going rough the outline of the presentation then move forward to what is the main body or content of the presentation and then finally combine both and rehearse your unified presentation as a whole.
Knowing your material is a great start to your presentation. Knowing your speech backwards and forward is a sign of a great presenter.
If you as a presenter are well acquainted with what is in your material you can then utilize that time focusing on other factors.
3. Rehearse with your presentation
Often presenters make a frequent mistake and that is they never rehearse with their presentation. They focus more on the delivery part of the speech rather than rehearsing with both, the speech and the actual slides.
If you don’t rehearse with your slides, how will you know which slide comes next or how to time each of your slides?
This will be a disadvantage when you present on the final day because then there will be too many things and you won’t know how to manage both.
4. Time your presentation
Timing your presentation when rehearsing will not let you exceed the limit on the main day of your presentation. Time is the most vital element in your presentation.
Decide how much time you will spend on each slide. When you practice considering the allotted time you won’t exceed the actual time of the presentation. You will also cover everything that you wanted to say and may also get done with it early.
Exceeding the time limit will make the audience lose interest which is a bad sign for the presenter.
5. Rehearse out loud
Reading your material out loud will help you remember points easily.
When I was in school, my dad told me that if you read your answers loudly the words will remain fresh in your memory rather than repeating the answer 10 times and just mugging up. Feel your words and monitor your energy level.
If you are confused and don’t know what to do instead of memorizing then follow this article ‘To Memorize or to Not: A Public Speaker’s Dilemma’ for the best guidance. This article will inform you about the problem with memorizing and how you can overcome this problem.
Use this technique and read out your text at least 2-3 times a day. People who practice debates also use this technique.
6. Rehearse in front of a mirror
When you rehearse in front of a mirror you will get an idea of how you look while presenting. You can make out what actions are going wrong and correct them.
You can also look at your facial expressions up-close and know exactly how your face changes with what you say.
Looking in the mirror and rehearsing your speech will also give you confidence. All the minor details that you may have missed may come out with this technique and you get the chance to correct those mistakes.
7. Voice Record your practice
Recording yourself rehearse is also one way to rehearse. When you record yourself while practising you will find that your voice may sound a bit different but that’s natural.
It is witnessed that through recording you will find unwanted pauses in your speech presentation such as ‘Umm’, ‘Uh’ and ‘Ah’. These pauses just make your presentation look weak. So rehearsing with recording can help you erase such mistakes from your speech.
Keep listening to your recording when you are free or doing something that doesn’t need your attention. Listening to the recording continuously will accustom you to the material and presentation.
8. Video record your practice
Video recording your rehearsal is different from the voice recording. In a voice recording, you can just hear your voice but in a video recording, you can see yourself and notice all the hand gestures and movements you make while speaking.
Don’t just focus on just words, but also focus on body language. Tone, voice, pitch, are a part of vocals. Observe how you sound, ‘Are you too loud?’ or ‘Are you too slow?’
When I asked my friend what do you to rehearse your speech before a presentation she said I video record myself. In today’s time, this is the most used technique of them all.
Why is it you may ask? This is because video recording the entire practice is easy and covers everything together in just one video. Also, make sure you make eye contact and smile while presenting. All these little things can make a huge difference in your presentation.
Body language has a wide scope in communication and public speaking. We have written an article on Body Language and Its Contribution to the Process of Communication. Read this to know in detail about body language.
You will also get feedback about the different errors you make like not making eye contact or fidgeting with your hands.
9. Rehearse in front of a single person
Rehearsing in front of a person is different from rehearsing in front of a mirror or camera. In this case, you will get real spoken feedback from the person you are rehearsing in front of.
Preferably choose a person you are close to because that person will be honest and not be worried about hurting your feelings. She/he won’t be biased and point out the mistakes you have made.
10. Rehearse in front of an audience
Yet again rehearsing in front of an audience is different from rehearsing in front of a single person.
The larger the crowd the more you get nervous. Standing in front of a group and giving a presentation may seem easy but when the spotlight is on you there are hundreds of things going on in your head.
Hence, when you practice beforehand there is a certain sense of calm because you have already gone through that experience and you know what to say, how to move. This also boosts your confidence and you may show better results.
11. Preparing for the ‘if’ situation
What is the ‘if’ situation? Here, the presenter must be prepared entirely for any unpredictable thing to happen.
We are assuming that even if something goes wrong the presenter is mentally prepared and does not panic. The presenter must improvise and not let it affect his presentation.
For instance- A sudden electricity cut down takes place at the location of your presentation. Be prepared to present without a PPT.
Someone from the audience may say something offensive. Don’t lose your calm and be patient. Handle the situation with ease.
These things should be kept in mind while rehearsing for the presentation.
12. Experiment with your presentation
While rehearsing you may have noticed somethings that may sound off. Instead of just going with that and repeating the same things change your words and ways.
Experiment with your material and fit in the best quality of content. Do not compromise with your content.
Make it interesting and innovative. Ask questions, play a quiz, tell a funny story etc. All these things will make your presentation so much more appealing.
13. Pay a visit to the location where you will be presenting
If it is possible and in your hand, visit the location of your presentation to get a better idea of what you will be dealing with.
Do a technical rehearsal of your entire presentation one time with the lights, the slides and the mic to ensure that everything is working properly. This technical rehearsal will give you a little confidence and keep your nervousness in check.
Get well acquainted with the gadget that you will be using to present your presentation. If it is possible for you, load the presentation on the selected technology at the location and test it.
Should You Memorize a Presentation or Not?
The answer to this question depends entirely on you. It’s not like it’s a restriction but it would be beneficial if the speaker does not just memorize for the sake of delivering.
Drawbacks of memorizing
Why is that so? Memorizing your entire speech is not a crime but the drawback is that if you forget a sentence or even a word for that matter you will end up forgetting the next part of your presentation as it is all connected and interdependent.
Memorizing may also lead you to recite the presentation in the same manner as it is written. Not adding your personal tinge to the presentation will make it sound bookish. You don’t want to sound too robotic with no emotions, pauses and interaction with the audience.
What to do instead of memorizing?
Instead of memorizing the entire presentation word to word one way is to rehearse by trying to understand the framework of the presentation. Create an outline and this will automatically help you understand the core of your material.
Another way is to visualize your speech. What this means is that usually, people tend to remember visual images or symbols as compared to chunks of texts.
For example, when I was in my 10th grade my tutor told me to write the important headings in colour. Using different colours helps remember the headings clearly.
For instance, my heading is ‘Rehearsing in front of the mirror’ and I use the colour red to highlight that heading so while presenting I will instantly recall the colour and know what it is for. This may also help remember the order according to the colours.
When you rehearse regularly you almost know what to say next and this is different from memorization.
Things to Watch Out for When Rehearsing a Presentation
There are certain things that the presenter must watch out for to give a meaningful presentation. Here are some points that will help you understand what you must watch out for. Consider these points while you rehearse for a presentation.
1. Apologizing to the audience
Apologizing may vary according to the situation and the degree of mistake the presenter makes. Apologizing unnecessarily may of course leave a bad remark for your skills.
An unsaid ‘never apologize for rule’ is noticed in public speaking because apologizing is seen as highlighting the mistake and giving it more importance. But for instance, if the mistake is prominent then apologizing would be a smart move.
So rehearse in such a way that even if you tend to make a mistake you can cover it up cleanly.
2. Asking questions when statements would be clearer
Sometimes the presenter may use questions which are not really applicable to the format of the speech. In place of a statement she/he has asked a question. The answer to which is not really required.
For instance, if you are speaking about the importance of rehearsing in a presentation and you have to say, “There is a high possibility that you may end up messing with the presentation because of a few mistakes here and there”.
But you end up saying, “Is it possible to mess up the presentation because of a few mistakes?”This question was not required in this context and it will break the flow of what you are saying.
In such a case, the audience will get disoriented and not know what to answer or even if they do have to answer.
3. Introducing too much vocabulary
Try not to use too many complex and heavy words. When you practice remember to use a simple and easy language. If the audience is unable to comprehend what the presenter is saying then the entire presentation seems baseless.
4. Redundancies and repetition
At times the presenter may keep repeating the same sentence or word again and again. Why? This is because the audience may have missed that point and the presenter repeats it to draw the audience’s attention to that specific piece of information.
But when the presenter starts repeating unnecessary and smaller statements then it leads to irritation in the form of disinterest.
Edit out the redundant adjectives from your speech such as ‘very’, ‘good’, ‘nice’ etc. Don’t add too many phrases and long statements. The longer you stretch your presentation the more the people will start getting distracted.
Avoid using slangs in a presentation. A presentation is believed to be a formal event and using slangs will make the presentation and even the setting seem casual.
5. Reading from slides
Avoid directly reading what is written word to word in the slides. This is a big NO! You don’t want the audience to think less of you. Reading from slides will do exactly that.
Make bullet points of your notes so that when you are delivering your speech you can emphasize the key points. Rehearse with these bullet points to get a hang of how you will deliver on your official day.
6. Whispering or yelling
Be aware of what tone you use while presenting. When you video record your rehearsal check if you are either whispering or yelling.
The people in the front row must not get repulsed by your presentation and your speech. Be neutral with your tone, not too loud and not too slow.
7. Nervous pacing or awkward stillness
While you rehearse keep in mind that you must master your body language with your presentation. Both must go hand in hand.
Don’t pace while speaking and ensure you don’t stand still either. You are not a prop or poll. So, move around a bit while asking questions.
We have written an article on “To walk or stand still: How should you present when on stage?”. This article will guide you about ‘Where to stand?’ , ‘Things to avoid while standing on stage’, ‘How to stop swaying during a speech’ etc.
8. Forcing emotions
Emotions are very essential while presenting. If you seem dull and weary while presenting, the audience may get the wrong message.
While in comparison if you seem enthusiastic they may show interest as well. Though don’t ever force emotions that you don’t feel in your presentation. The audience is quick to catch.
Forcing emotions may leave a negative impact and spoil the presentation.
9. Unnecessary slides
When creating your presentation make a list of all the important pointers you will add and cut off the unnecessary information.
Don’t keep adding slides to extend your presentation. Long presentations tend to exhaust the audience as compared to short and crisp presentations.
10. Purely anecdotal evidence
Presenters should not always rely on unproven facts or information.
At times it so happens that when the speaker adds information that is not proven and someone in the audience may be familiar with it they may judge you according to this small error.
The audience may then question your credibility. So avoid adding anecdotal evidence in your presentation.
Practice Public Speaking in Your Day to Day Life
Apart from just practising public speaking when you have a presentation scheduled you can make it a point to rehearse public speaking in your daily life.
Practising public speaking in your everyday hectic life may sound perplexing but it’s a good start to improve your public speaking skills. Taking a little extra effort to rehearse every day will only help prepare you for future presentations.
It not only makes you an able speaker but also helps build your personality strongly. 3 ways you can add practising public speaking in your daily life.
1. The emoji technique
One way to practice your presentation every day is to practice at home. Rehearse when you don’t have any presentation lined up, but rehearse to enhance your art. Use the emoji technique of facial expressions.
What is the emoji technique? In this technique, you make faces similar to those of the emoji.
For instance, there is a happy face emoji so you enact that exact facial expression. The same goes for the angry face emoji, puzzled face emoji and so on.
It may seem absurd at first but you will eventually see the result. Facial expressions are a part of delivering a speech so rehearsing your facial expressions may be a step up for a good presentation.
2. Give a speech to everybody and anybody
What this means is rehearse in front of anyone ready to listen to you and may even help point out the errors you make. Talk to them in such a way, like you would do when presenting.
Have a mental checklist of all the key points you have to cover, make eye contact, smile, use a soft tone but make sure its impactful, use hand gestures as a way of communication.
All these elements are a part and parcel of public speaking and making use of them in your daily conversations may help you strengthen your foundation.
3. Walk and rehearse
What will this technique do? In the first place, you will gain self-confidence and secondly, this will make you stronger with delivering your speech without errors.
When you walk and rehearse in front of strangers they will keep looking at you. It is human nature. When you rehearse daily, day by day you won’t get bothered by the stares. You will also get used to the staring of people in your surroundings.
The point is you won’t get nervous or distracted when you give your presentation in front of an audience who is looking at you while you present.
Israelmore Ayivor very rightly said, “People who become successful take every “today’s victory” as a rehearsal for tomorrows trophy.”
Take inspiration from this saying because rehearsal does make a difference in your presentation. The more you rehearse the better the outcome.
To become a skilful presenter/speaker is not a gift, you need to work for it. Follow the three Ds: Discipline, Dedication and Determination. This will not only bring you closer to success but also make you an accomplished speaker/presenter.