How Long Should It Take to Practice for a Presentation?


Presentations are one of the most effective ways of sharing information or insights, especially when it is aided by visuals through slide decks. However, once we are done with our decks and the script for the presentation, the question that most of us might have is “How long does it take to practice for a presentation?

Presentations take the form of a speech, introduction, demonstration, or even a lecture. Besides presenting a new idea or product, the goal of the presentation could be to inform, educate, inspire, persuade or motivate the audience. The end goal, however, for any presentation is to make sure that you as a speaker are able to reach the audience.

It is thus extremely important for you to rehearse or practice your presentation before getting on stage.

Why practice for a presentation?

So you have researched your topic, made a good outline of all the information you want to add, have even made your PowerPoint and you think you are good to go?

Think again!

Practicing your presentation before going on stage or before presenting it to your audience is more important than you can imagine.

Here is a list of things that you most likely will face when you haven’t practiced for your presentation:

  • Unable to recall the flow of your information
  • Constantly checking the slides to recall information
  • Not having a killer beginning and end for your presentation
  • Possibility of going blank or getting confused
  • Using tons of filler words like Urms and ums
  • Not using appropriate body language to complement your speech

To avoid experiencing any of these on your important day, we suggest you practice your presentation. 

This brings us to the main question that you might have here,

How long should you practice for a presentation?

As a general rule of thumb, it is advised to practice a presentation for at least 30 hours.

Sounds like a lot right?

The other method that you can use is by incorporating the most widely used formula,

1 hour of practice for 1 minute of presentation

If you plan on following this approach then it would take anywhere between 5 hours to 60 hours of practice depending upon the duration of your presentation.

Check out the table below to get a clear idea of how long it takes to practice for a presentation.

How long to practice for a 5-minute presentation?5 hours
How long to practice for a 10-minute presentation?10 hours
How long to practice for a 15-minute presentation?15 hours
How long to practice for a 20-minute presentation?20 hours
How long to practice for a 25-minute presentation?25 hours
How long to practice for a 30-minute presentation?30 hours
How long to practice for a 40-minute presentation?40 hours
How long to practice for a 60-minute presentation?60 hours

Now if you are looking for a specific number of times that you should practice for a presentation, then the magical number is 10.

According to the general rule of thumb, practicing at least 10 times can help you grasp the content of your presentation better.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a more long-term understanding of how much you should practice to improve your presentation skills overall, then Anders Ericsson might be able to help you out. Anders Ericsson has given the world famous 10,000- hours rule.

The rule states something very simple; it takes 10,000 hours of practice over 10 years to excel in anything you wish you excel in.

The same holds for public speaking as well. Spending 10,000 hours over 10 years to consistently gain a better fluency in presenting to a huge audience can help you with refine your presentation skills.

However, these are just numbers and they may or may not work best for you. So try to practice your presentation at least once or twice and try to understand at what point you feel like you are good to go.

Now that you know how long it takes to practice a presentation, why not take a look into some of the best ways to practice your presentation?

Best way to practice for a presentation

The best way to practice for any presentation and I have advocated it a gazillion times, is to Video record yourself.

Recording yourself goes a long way in making you see what your audience might witness when you present. It also helps you notice and come up with improvement areas that others might not be able to point out. This doesn’t mean you cannot practice in front of a mirror or in front of your family or friends.

The only reason we suggest video recording yourself is that a) it gives you a chance to see your improvement and b) it relives your relatives from honestly critiquing you.

Yet another way to practice is by simulating real-world conditions. But this method would require a lot of effort on your part to find the right sources which is very time consuming and hence we won’t encourge you to try it.

We have taken a look at the practicing bit of presentations, but there are other crucial preliminary aspects like how to learn and prepare for presentations that must also be taken a look into.

How long does it take to learn a presentation?

Learning a presentation doesn’t necessarily mean memorizing your presentation. Learning a presentation includes ways in which you can recall the presentation better. Check out a list of strategies you can try while practicing and settle on the one that fits best for you.

1. 20-20-20 rule of rehearsal

The 20-20-20 rule for rehearsal is quite interesting. It states that you must go over your presentation content for 20 minutes, saying it out loud a couple of times. And then you shall repeat the same process twice more, i.e., 20 minutes followed by 2 more sets of 20 minutes.

However, you shall make sure of repeating the next set within 30 minutes as it helps in better recall and easy learning.

Now if you follow this, then it should not take you more than 150 minutes to learn your presentation.

2. Mind Maps

Mind maps are yet another interesting way to learn and remember the content of your presentation. Unlike the usual chronological or sequential flow of information, mind maps help in understanding the concept more thoroughly.

Using mind maps can help you in continuing with your presentation if in any case you end up forgetting a couple of lines as you would be able to recall the concept better.

3. Music

Girl listening to music

Psychologists like Dr. Georgi Lozanov have provided evidence of how music can enhance our capacity to learn more and learn faster.

You can try to use music as you practice your presentation. This learning method would work wonders if you are aware of the background music (if any) that will be played while you present in front of an audience.

The reason is that your brain tends to associate information you are learning with musical notes. And if you practice using the same song or tones, the chances of you recalling information on the big day drastically increase.

4. Trigger words

Another psychological trick to learn your presentation and enhance its recall is by using trigger words.

Trigger words are simple words that act as landmarks in your presentation and bombard you with the necessary information when required.

For an instance, let’s assume you are giving a speech on impromptu presentations and want to explain the Point, Reason, Example, Point model. You can simply say something thing “how do you prep for an impromptu presentation?”

5. Consistency

The last suggestion to help you learn better is to spread out practicing your presentation rather than keeping it for the last day.

This will give you more time to learn and unlearn your own style of presenting.

If we have to take a step further back, then we might ask,

How long does it take to prepare for a presentation?

Clock on a wall

In this blog, we have gone from practicing to learning a presentation and now we come to the very initial point of any presentation, preparing for the presentation.

Preparing for any presentation can be very time-consuming. It is because it involves not only researching and outlining the presentation but also designing the slide decks.

The general rule of time taken to prepare for a presentation is

1 minute of presentation = 1 hour of preparation

This involves framing your copy and designing your slides which may take up about 20+40 minutes respectively or 30+30 minutes respectively.

However, these are just the usual trends and the amount of time required to prepare for a presentation may be very different for you.

How to prepare for a presentation?

Preparing for presentations may involve different steps for different kinds of presentations. Let’s take a look at some of the diverse ways of presenting.

How to prepare for a big presentation?

Big presentations are presentations made in a big auditorium or a big screen (Kidding!).

These are the presentations that matter a lot to you. These big presentations could be life-changing for some individuals or businesses thus making it 10x important to be well prepared for them.

1. Focus on your takeaways

For any big presentation, it is very important for you to focus on your key takeaways. These takeaways are nothing but your goal or outcome you would want to see from the audience.

Your takeaway could be that you want the audience to be more informed about something or for them to be more open to accepting new ideas or technologies. You might also want to motivate the audience to do something like try to be a little more sustainable.

2. Outline your presentation

Practice and outline your presentation in a smooth flowing manner so that the audience can easily link one subtopic to the other. This would also ensure that there is little to no confusion on neither their or your part.

3. Practice eye contact and expressions

For your big presentation, your confidence would be the key to acing it. And the most effective way of projecting your confidence is through your body language, expressions, and maintaining eye- contact.

Apart from that, be more open, and occupy more space if the stage provides you space. Try using your hands to complement your words.

4. Video record yourself

As suggested before, while practicing, video record yourself. Once done, go back to the video and try to identify all the areas where you can improve upon. Then implement it the next time you record yourself and continue the process until you are satisfied with your presentation.

5. Seek the guidance of experts

If everything still seems overwhelming to you then take a deep breath and dial in an expert who can help you navigate through your big presentation better. If you have no idea where to find one, then check out frantically speaking, we are always happy to help.

How to prepare for a blind presentation?

Blind presentations are impromptu presentations.

In many interviews, you might be asked to give a blind presentation. However, unlike impromptu speeches, you are often given some time to prepare for blind presentations like 30 minutes.

These sorts of presentations are primarily done to test how you perform under stress and how creative you can be.

A few things to keep in mind while preparing for a blind presentation are:

1. Research

Utilize the time that is given to you to briefly research the topic. Try to spend enough time in researching the company in terms of their goals, recent achievements, and more. The idea is to relate the topic to the company if the blind presentation is for an interview.

2. Outline your presentation

While you might not have a lot of time to sit and script out your entire presentation speech, what you can do is just make a broad outline of how you plan on going about the presentation.

If you have no idea how you can do that, try out the PREP model.

PREP stands for Point, Reason, Example, Point. It is a very comprehensive way to structure any impromptu speech. You begin with a point, give a reason for focusing on that point, follow it up with an example and then end the segment by revisiting the point.

3. Use Props (if possible)

This isn’t a mandatory requirement but if you can make use of anything available around you and use it as a prop, it might add extra points in terms of your creativity.

However, if you aren’t able to come up with any such prop, we advice you to rather focus on the content of the presentation and not waste a lot of your time on finding a prop.

4. Practice (if possible)

Yet another situational suggestion is to go through your presentation at least once if time permits. This might also help you gain a little more confidence in your presentation.

How to prepare for a pitch presentation?

Pitch presentations are often short, detailed yet to the point. A couple of things to take into account while preparing for a pitch presentation are:

1. Understand the audience’s pain points

Before you begin writing your pitch, understand your audience and understand their problems. Once you have an idea of their pain points, try to navigate your pitch in a way that provides solutions to these pain points of your audience.

2. Tell a story

Tell a story to your audience, preferably one to which they can relate to. If we have to give an example of frantically speaking here, (you can find it in our youtube introduction as well) we say,

I started this Channel because after giving more than 100 talks, whether it’d be public speeches, pitches to board presentations or hosting events in large scale auditoriums, I embarrassed myself so many times that I wish I had a resource like this that could’ve helped me communicate more effectively during those times..

3. Include all elements

When you are preparing for a pitch presentation, it is important to focus on all elements of your business or all features of your products. So, give a glimpse of your unique selling points, market competition, finances, intellectual property, and more in case the pitch is for a business.

4. Use props or examples

If you are pitching for a product, make sure to use the product as a prop so as to give your audience an exact idea of what they can expect from the same. But if you are pitching your business plan or idea, then you can make use of some examples.

How to practice for an online presentation?

Online presentation by a girl

When we have questions related to preparing for online presentations, we also cover questions like:

  • How to practice a presentation on teams?
  • How to practice a presentation on zoom?

Preparing for online presentations is similar to preparing for any other presentation, except you might have to take a look at the connectivity and working of devices here a little more.

For online presentations, the best way to practice is to record yourself but using the software or application which you will be using for the final presentation. So let’s say you will be presenting on zoom, then record yourself presenting in zoom itself. This will help you navigate through the software and at the same time improve your presentation skills.

How to prepare for an oral presentation?

Oral presentations can be very tricky to prepare for. The reason is that now the audience’s attention is completely on you. Further, in the absence of a visuals, you might have to focus more on your body language, tonality, and expressions.

Check out the video below to know more about non-verbal communication.

Besides that, you can try working on your opening lines and come up with a killer closing line as well.

How to prepare for a poster presentation?

Another way of aesthetically presenting your data is through poster presentations.

The only difference between a PowerPoint presentation and a poster presentation is that all the information has to be condensed into one poster as opposed to n number of slides.

Couple of things to make sure you take a look into while preparing for a poster presentation are:      

1. Determine the size of your poster

It is very crucial to know the size of your poster before you begin your presentation as it will also determine the amount of information you will be able to add to the poster.

2. Avoid cluttering

We might be tempted to present all the information to the evaluators. However, because of the space constraint, it is always suggested to filter out all the not-so-important findings or information. Focus only on the key points and include them in your poster to not make it look much cluttered. 

3. Use visible fonts

Since we end up adding a lot of information to the posters, we might overlook the importance of using visible fonts.

Try to stick to fonts that would be easily visible from at least 3-5 feet away from the poster. Also try sticking to 3 font sizes, one of the main headings, sub-headings, and lastly the content. Using too many fonts and font sizes could make the poster look not so aesthetically pleasing. 

4. Follow the IMRAD rule

If you are presenting the poster for academic or scientific research then you should try following the IMRAD rule, i.e., Information, Methods, Results, and Discussion.

The reason is that not only is it most popularly used by scholars around the world, but it also includes all the important segments of any research. However, feel free to add any other subtopics or information as per your requirements. 

How to prepare for a presentation the night before?

You have a presentation tomorrow and are wondering if you will be able to prepare yourself for the same?

Don’t worry; we have all been there at least once.

Here are a couple of things you can do when preparing for a presentation the night before

1. Writing the presentation

Since you do not have much time on your hand, it is advised to not focus on writing a well-laid-out script or speech for your presentation.

Stick to the main pointers and develop the speech around those main points. While you can still go about writing a script, it might put some pressure on you in terms of memorizing the speech.

2. Outlining the presentation

Outlining or understanding how you will be going about with the main points is just as important as coming up with the points. The reason for this is that it would help you in delivering a smooth and effective presentation.

A few ways you can structure your presentation are given below:

Problem-solution: This involves introducing your speech by emphasizing a problem and then providing solutions for the same.

PREP (Point, Reason, Example, and Point): A very simple strategy to structure your presentation is the PREP model where you begin by emphasizing a point. You can follow it up by giving a reason to back that point and then add an example to make it more personal. Lastly, end the segment by revisiting the point.

3. Delivering the presentation

While delivering the last-moment presentation, rather than complicating your delivery by focusing more on body language and expressions, you can try to use Functional gesturing.

Functional gesturing is the use of hands and expressions that support or complement what you are saying.

Check out our youtube video below to understand the concept in detail.

Final Words

While we can definitely give you an idea about the number of hours people usually end up spending on a certain type of presentation, at the end of the day it is important to understand the fact that every presentation has its own unique set of requirements. And by this we mean that the amount of time, efforts and energy you put into a presentation would not always be the same.

So, the answer to your “How long does it take to practice for a presentation?” is that practicing and preparing for a presentation is not about the numbers but rather about committing to the process and going through it.

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