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Channel your inner Steve Jobs with the power of practice

Do you agree that Steve Jobs will go down in history as one of the greatest business communicators of our time? He had a knack of delivering his product launches in a relaxed and effortless way. 

But the truth is, Jobs did not consider himself a ‘natural’ communicator by any stretch, and would put in hours of gruelling practice to appear that natural and relaxed. He would spend weeks practicing before the event and then put in 2 additional full days of dress rehearsal. 

And fair enough. When the stakes are high, why would you not give everything you can to ace your presentation?
But can I ask – do you practice your presentations?

My guess is probably not, for one of the following reasons:

  1. You never have time
  2. Practising presenting feels a bit weird
  3. It makes you feel nervous and stresses you out

Well if you fall into any of the above categories, let me assure you that spending time practising upcoming presentations, will make you feel and sound more confident and in control.

How do I rehearse?

Try the following steps: 

1. Find somewhere to work without any distractions
2. Get your visuals ready to go, either on a projector or on a laptop
2. Talk through what you are going to say out loud. You don’t need an audience – just time
3. Make any necessary amends to your slides and to your notes
4. Do it all over again
5. And again
6. Until you can talk through your ideas in a natural way

Remember you are not striving for perfection, as there is no such thing as a perfect presentation. You are striving for clarity in your mind on your topic. 

What should you be striving for?

  • When what you are saying feels and sounds natural
  • You can communicate the same point in multiple ways
  • You can fairly comfortably talk through your ideas without too many stops or stumbles
  • You are speaking at a natural pace i.e not flying through it without breathing, and not reading it like a robot

How long do you need?

If I am speaking at a conference, I give myself at least a week just to practice. As this allows time to make changes. Running through your presentation, for the first time, the morning you are giving it – will just freak you out. Carmine Gallo, Author of Talk Like TED, recommends 20 for 20 (practice a 20 min presentation, 20 times).

.And remember if you are someone who avoids practising presentations as it makes you feel uncomfortable, spending the time practising before your presentation, will make you feel more comfortable during your presentation. 

“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers

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