There’s a reason our mothers always told us "practice makes perfect." Sometimes we’d rather not hear it, because it takes both time and effort. However, the impact a little practice can have on the quality, delivery and overall sense of professionalism cannot be underestimated. Without a doubt, the more time you put into rehearsing your presentation, the better it’ll be. Here are some ideas.

Use a Tape Recorder
During your practice sessions, use a tape recorder to get a good idea of how you deliver your message. Listen closely to your voice. Are you speaking too quickly? What tone are you using? Are you stumbling over your words? Do you often say "Um" between thoughts? Are you really getting your message across? Ask yourself, "Would I want to listen to this person? Would I find this delivery style interesting?"
Ask a Friend or Colleague to Evaluate Your Presentation
Have a friend or colleague watch your presentation in its entirety and provide feedback. Ask him to focus on clarity of the message, presentation style and effectiveness of your visual aids. Also ask him to jot down comments on paper as he watches your presentation. After you’re finished, together you can review and discuss each point.
Practice in Front of a Mirror
When you practice in front of a mirror, you’ll be able to evaluate your every move. If you find yourself using the same gestures repeatedly, ask yourself, "What does this movement communicate?" If the answer is nervousness, that’s a gesture you should get rid of! Try holding two heavy books as you practice your presentation in front of the mirror. If you gesture with the books, it’s likely a movement with meaning… so you should keep it. When you give your actual presentation and you feel the urge to gesture nervously, try to visualize yourself with the books in your hands.
When You Practice, Use Your Visual Aids or Multimedia at Least Once
Using multimedia equipment can really impress an audience – if it’s used correctly. Before your presentation, be certain you’re comfortable with the equipment or technology you’ll be using during your presentation. A few hours before your presentation, go to the room in which you’ll be presenting and ensure that all is working well.
Videotape Your Actual Presentation and Evaluate it After
Videotaping your presentation is truly the tell-all and can really help you identify and improve upon your presenting skills. What types of gestures are you using during your presentation? Are you making eye contact with audience members? Are you smiling? Is your information being communicated effectively and clearly? What did your visuals look like? What was the audience’s reaction to your jokes or anecdotes? Many of us dislike watching ourselves on video, but doing this can be a useful tool to learn about your personal presenting style and how to improve it.

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