Are you ready for your next big presentation?
Are you sure?
Just because you have your notes ready, and even if you know exactly what you are going to say, you still may not be truly ready.
That’s because the presentation isn’t actually about you at all.
If you really want to be ready so that your audience is blown away by your presentation…
Then after your notes are ready, you need to practice.
My suggestion is to practice your presentation three times in real time with what I call the “90/10 Rule.”
Practice for the “90/10 Rule”
The “90/10 Rule” is the term we use to describe one of the best rules of presenting.
While it is a comfort to have all the material available in your blueprint for reference…
To be a really dynamic speaker…
You should be so familiar with your material that only 10 percent of your brain needs to be thinking about the presentation content itself…
And 90 percent of your brain can be thinking about your delivery and interaction with your audience.
Don’t Fall Short!
If you are only at 60/40 or 80/20, you will be constantly distracted…
…looking at your content rather than at the audience, which will make you appear nervous and distract your listeners.
More important, the more comfortable you are with your material, the less likely you are to be nervous.
You make that happen with practice.
The great majority of people can get to 90/10 after they practice a presentation three times in real time.
In other words, if you have an hour-long presentation, you would stand in an empty room and go through it from beginning to end three times for a total of three hours.
Afterward, you are likely to find the cues from your blueprint and it will be all you need to remind you what you have to say.
Need Some Proof?
Jason did a second observation of his new clients after he had helped them create their blueprints and told them to practice three times.
Instead of as many as two dozen downward glances, those clients recorded only four to six.
Each of them told Jason how much less nervous they felt about making the presentation.
Most important, they appeared less nervous.
Though three practices are enough for many people, some need more.
I suggest you practice until you feel comfortable, but I assure you this will happen sooner than you might expect.
Practice away your last-minute jitters
Even when practice has gotten you to the 90/10 level, you may have some presentation anxiety.
You’re most likely to experience it during the first thirty seconds of your presentation and for up to five minutes after you start.
If you can’t do a complete run-through in real time right before you are scheduled to present…
You can reduce your anxiety if you at least practice the beginning of your presentation.
We cover this exact topic in much more detail in our Opener: The Power of a Great Start Program.
Go through the whole opener, from “Hi” and your name through “I’m going to show you . . .” and continue into your first topic.
I usually suggest you continue until the five-minute mark, since normally nervousness dissipates by then.
However, you may want to go a little longer or shorter, based on your past experiences of how long it takes you to relax.
Do the pre-presentation practice of the opener at least three times.
However, if you experience not just nervousness but fear—the kind that makes your palms sweat, your voice shaky, and your brain blank out temporarily…
Six practices seems to be the number that does the trick. (That’s only a half hour in all.)
The best place to practice is in the empty room where you will be delivering the presentation, before everyone gets there.
If that’s not possible, it’s useful to find a private space where there’s a mirror.
Face the mirror when you practice to check you’re not exhibiting any of the nervous habits that Craig describes in this blog.
Even if you don’t feel nervous, you may unwittingly use body language that makes you look as if you are.
If you’re having trouble finding a practice space, use this tip a colleague shared…
When he needs a private spot, he locates the nearest restroom and retreats into one of the stalls.
By warming up and relieving your concerns about forgetting, practice will do wonders to calm your nerves.