7 Key Steps to Rehearse for a Stunning Presentation

Imagine Mike is an experienced IT manager who keeps most of the people on his team hyped and productive with his great leadership skills.

But lately, projects and sprints have been slow. Mike needs his team to keep up with deadlines. He’s thinking of doing a presentation on new practices and tools that boost productivity. But he doesn’t know the first thing about presenting in front of a crowd and isn’t sure how he can get the whole team to listen and participate.

Let’s help Mike practice for his presentation with rehearsal tactics so he can focus his team’s undivided attention.

What kind of rehearsal do you think is most effective for him?

You guessed it!

Mike should stand up, find a place with enough room, and start speaking out loud so he can practice his actual speech. Talking out loud and clearly pronouncing his points can help him get an idea of how his audience will perceive his presentation.

Mike is a magician with development projects and defining deadlines, but presentations are a different story.

If he’s going to present new ideas to help evolve his team’s behavior and mindset, he needs it to be easy to follow and understand. That’s why rehearsing is a must for Mike and anyone who’s about to do a live presentation.

Practicing can be a fun process that helps build your confidence and effortless flow when speaking so you deliver a convincing presentation that fulfills your goals.

“I don’t want my first rehearsal
in front of a large group of strangers
to be when I stand up
in front of 3,000 people”

– Tim Ferriss, Entrepreneur & Author

So, you got a presentation coming up? Let’s make sure you give a killer speech and show you how to prepare for delivering the most impactful presentation you possibly can.

Practicing your presentation is not about remembering the words. It’s about speaking with confidence. That’s what moves an audience.

To go out there with confidence, you need to know your presentation in and out. That happens only through rehearsing. Yes, it’s time-consuming but even the best speakers out there – the ones you admire, do it.

Step 1

Recreate the real presentation spot

Imagine you’re in the room and try to visualize where your audience will be. Get yourself in the mood that you’re already under the spotlight and everyone is looking forward to your presentation.

The best place to rehearse is the actual place you’re going to show your presentation. If that’s possible – you’re good to go. Prepare all of your materials, props, print materials, and everything you’re planning on using and start following the steps below.

Step 2

Stand up and talk out loud

The main goal of your rehearsal is to start talking with confidence and obtain freedom for spontaneous improvisations.

You won’t get far if you sit at your computer and just read out your slides. Act like you’re already on stage by standing up and trying to speak as loud and clear as possible.

It’s also important to practice with your visual aids and the slide content but never read from your presentation. You’re not at a public reading event.

💡 Remember: There are 2 vital parts of any presentation – the beginning and the end.

Your introduction sets the stage, gives the context, and establishes the overall vibe for your audience to decide whether they should care.

The conclusion is where you should summarize the main takeaways and most importantly – always give a clear and meaningful call to action so your audience has something to walk away with.

Step 3

Record yourself over and over

It’s crucial to see yourself from a third-person perspective and try to find any flaws or weak spots in your talk, body language, pace, and how strong you’re delivering the main message.

Recording yourself can be as simple as using your smartphone to make a video of yourself. Place it on a spot where you can record your entire body movements, not just from the chest up.

🗣 Watch for any distracting and unnecessary elements in your speech such as:

  • Sporadic gestures
  • Irrational movements
  • Awkward body language
  • Hands in your pockets
  • Lack of eye contact with people
  • Umms, long pauses, filler words
  • Inconsistent pace and intonation

You’ll be surprised at how much you can improve your speech and presentation by watching yourself doing it. The more you repeat the recordings, the more you’ll clean up your talk and keep a balanced pace.

💡 Remember: Enable your phone’s Do Not Disturb setting. Avoid ruining your presentation rehearsal.

Step 4

Start your countdown timer

This is an absolute must when practicing your talk. Keep an eye on how long the presentation goes and make adjustments to maintain appropriate time frames.

⏱☝ Start with the clock counting up. This way you set up a baseline of the total length of your presentation as it is. Then, if needed, cut material until you fit in your given timeslot. Yes, we know, it hurts to remove anything from your talk but making sure you are on time is an absolute must.

⏱👇 Finish with the clock counting down. Once you settle on the max length and focus time on each topic and sub-topic, you can start optimizing. If your max length is 30 min, make as many rehearsals to see if you go over that. For best results, you should mark the exact slides you should be on the 10th, 20th, and 30th minutes of your presentation.

This way you can keep track of your pace throughout your entire talk so you control yourself to avoid going over or under your time.

💡 Pro Tip: Make as many rehearsals as possible after you define the max length of your presentation to try and anticipate potential moments for questions or further details.

While rehearsing, think of places during your talk where questions may arise. Write them down, answer them, and rehearse their answers out loud too. This will boost your confidence even further!

Step 5

Spot the umm moments

It’s not impossible to remove the “umms” from your speech. It may take a while and you’ll need to do enough rehearsals, but you will get there.

When you start using too much “umms”, your speaking gets annoying and distracting. No speaker ever wants that to happen even for a moment.

Too much unnecessary noise, “aahs” and “umms” might also create a sense that you’re not really sure what you’re talking about and it starts to feel like you’re being questioned by your high-school teacher at an exam. This leads to your audience losing trust in you and then… you will have a real problem.

💡 Pro Tip: Watch your video recordings and keep track of the places where you start “umm”-ing the most. Focus on that and start practicing again while being mindful of those moments and try to avoid them.

Step 6

Aim for balanced vocal variety

There are 7 main factors that form the way your voice is perceived by your audience. Try to be mindful of each of them individually to form a wide range of vocal variety. This will keep your audience focused on what you have to say.

Intonation – Avoid being monotonous and sounding flat all the time. Choose the important words and passages that deserve extra intonation to accent these points naturally. Don’t exaggerate, just use your voice to emphasize critical moments.

Power of Volume – You absolutely must make sure that every single person in the room can hear you loud and clear without going too far and screaming or being too quiet. Discretion and softness in your voice won’t do you any favors when you want the crowd to trust you. However, mixing and saying something in a quiet fashion and then going back to your normal loud voice may be the perfect choice when you want to create a “let me tell you something very personal that not that many people know”…

Clarity – Make an effort to pronounce each word and phase in a clear and articulate way. You need to push yourself a bit on this so the people in the crowd don’t misunderstand anything.

Emphasis – Choose the right parts of the sentences to place your emphasis based on the meaning you want to deliver. Changing the emphasis of the same sentence can affect the way people perceive what you’re trying to say.

Pauses – Differentiate yourself from ordinary speakers by using pauses in the right places. Leave enough room for the “aha!” moment to come to your audience so they can absorb the information or to build anticipation for what you’re about to say next.

Also, use pauses in moments when you want to emphasize something and together with Power create moments where:

“EVERYTHING (pause) and I mean EVERYTHING (pause) you need to know about vocal variety (pause) is coming up (pause) in the next (pause) few (pause) minutes (pause).”

Pace – Try to control your excitement for the topic and don’t speak faster than your audience can follow. This doesn’t mean that you should talk so slow that people fall asleep, but just to be mindful of your dynamics.

Tone – Set the right tone and mood for the type of presentation you’re about to deliver. Whether you’re going to be energetic and high-pitched or controlled and conversational, try to set that up from the start and grab attention from the first moment.

💡 Pro Tip: Don’t stop rehearsing until you’ve paid attention to all 7 factors of building the vocal techniques that will make an impact on your audience.

Step 7

Create a test audience of friends & family

Once you’ve practiced so much that it becomes effortless, it’s time to practice under some stress. Ask your friends, colleagues, or family to act as your audience so you have real people to talk to.

⚠ Important: Ask for their real and honest feedback! Even if it hurts to hear it from your mom – you need to know if it feels like you’re doing something wrong.

Gather your test crowd and do the rehearsal like you’re actually doing the real presentation, not just another practice session.

This can be your last step of practicing until you reach a level of comfort where you’re now free of all stagefright, fear of public speaking, or anxiety. That’s what you’re aiming for.

💡 Pro Tip: If possible, get an audience to rehearse in front that will be as close as possible to the audience of your talk.

Challenge!

Now that you’ve become a public speaking mastermind, you can test your skills one last time before going live using PowerPoint’s AI Presenter Coach. Mind that the artificial intelligence inside PowerPoint will know when you’re reading from your slides, so see if you’re as good as you think.

See how to test your speaking here!

You should be practicing right now

Practice until it’s effortless. Don’t count the number of rehearsals, don’t even think about how much time you’ve spent on it. You should practice until it’s so comfortable that you enjoy yourself and feel more confident than ever.


Become a persuasive storyteller that can present complex topics in a captivating way. Start with the Online Course: Storytelling in Presentations!

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