Almost every book on public speaking I have ever read has emphasised the importance of rehearsal in ensuring a successful presentation or speech. The problem is that, for many of us there seems little or no time to have a full blown practice delivery session.
Now this may or may not be true but for now let’s give you the benefit of the doubt. The good news however is that you can harness the power of your imagination for the purpose of rehearsal. In your mind, it is possible to rehearse the essence of a 45 minute speech in less that 5 minutes!
Here’s the process I use when preparing for an important speaking occasion.
Stage 1) In your minds eye, imagine that you are sitting in the audience about to see yourself give your talk, speech or presentation. See yourself “walk on” looking calm, confident and interesting. As an audience member imagine thinking – wow this person looks good, this is going to be a great presentation. Now see and hear the you that is presenting, giving their talk. See them continuing to look confident, authoritative and assertive as they make engaging eye contact with you and the rest of their audience. Hear their fluent, clear, interesting voice used with passion, enthusiasm and appropriate variations in pitch pace and volume. Notice how their content is clear and well structured with the appropriate level of seriousness and humour. Feel how much you are enjoying their presentation and finally, at the end of their talk, give them a thunderous round of applause.
Stage 2) You are going to rehearse this presentation again but this time you are going to do it from the speakers perspective. Imagine that you are about to “walk on” and deliver your speech. Feel that your butterflies are flying in formation and that your are feeling excited and full of positive anticipation. Now walk on and as you do so, imagine yourself making eye contact with your audience. See their smiling faces and feel their interest and good will toward you. Now see, hear and feel yourself delivering your content confidently and authoritatively. See the nods and smiles of your audience, feel the confidence within you and hear your voice clear, powerful and assertive as you fluently deliver your key messages passionately. Finally, when you finish, hear and see the audience applauding you and imagine people afterwards congratulating you on an excellent and impactful presentation.
Stage 3) This last stage is optional but can be really powerful. Imagine that you are standing in the wings and that you are a coach, hired to help the you that is presenting. See and hear the you that is presenting, walk on confidently and deliver a powerful passionate and engaging message. Notice too, the way the audience is responding to this presentation. Now after the presentation is finished, imagine that you were sitting down with the you who was presenting and were giving them some feedback to help them make their content and delivery even better. Having observed them and the audience, what constructive feedback would you give yourself?
Contrast this with what most people normally do. They unconsciously imagine the worst. They see themselves making a poor presentation and then guess what? That’s what they actually do.
Try out this technique and you will give much better presentations, I guarantee it!