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Aesthetics and Delivery

Learning Objectives

  • Identify and distinguish methods of delivery
  • Discuss the rehearsal process
  • Strategize best practices for rehearsal

Having a clear understanding and appreciation for aesthetic choices—including verbal, nonverbal delivery, and the use of presentation aids— will enhance your understanding of public speaking. In reading the previous chapters, you likely thought of speakers who have either exemplified certain qualities or “broken the rules” by, for example, using many vocalized fillers. While understanding these ideas is important, the best path to integrating them in your own presentations is through rehearsal. You will create an exceptional aesthetic experience for your audience, but that starts before you step in front of the audience.

“I already know how to rehearse a speech,” you may be thinking. But like any ability, sport, or game, people proficient in those areas have insight to add. Yes, you could learn to masterfully cook on your own, but having an experienced chef at your side will lead to unexpected insights and increase your proficiency. So, trust us. We are experts.

When you begin the rehearsal process, the first step is figuring out which type of delivery you’ll be executing. There are four main types of delivery that we’ll outline below.

Types of Delivery

The content, purpose, and situation for your presentation will partially dictate how you rehearse because they will inform what type of delivery style you select. There are 4 general types of delivery: impromptu, extemporaneous, the use of a manuscript, and memorized.

Impromptu Speaking

Impromptu speaking is the presentation of a short message without advance preparation. You have probably done impromptu speaking many times in informal, conversational settings. Self-introductions in group settings are examples of impromptu speaking: “Hi, my name is Steve, and I’m a volunteer with the Homes for the Brave program.” Another example of impromptu speaking occurs when you answer a question such as, “What did you think of the movie?” Your response has not been preplanned, and you are constructing your arguments and points as you speak. Even worse, you might find yourself going into a meeting and your boss says, “I want

you to talk about the last stage of the project. . .” and you have no warning.

The advantage of this kind of speaking is that it’s spontaneous and responsive in an animated group context. The disadvantage is that the speaker is given little or no time to contemplate the central theme of their message. As a result, the message may be disorganized and difficult for listeners to follow.

Here is a step-by-step guide that may be useful if you are called upon to give an impromptu speech in public:

  • Take a moment to collect your thoughts and plan the main point that you want to make (like a mini thesis statement).
  • Thank the person for inviting you to speak. Do not make comments about being unprepared, called upon at the last moment, on the spot, or uneasy. In other words, try to avoid being self-deprecating!
  • Deliver your message, making your main point as briefly as you can while still covering it adequately and at a pace your listeners can follow.
  • If you can use a structure, use numbers if possible: “Two main reasons. . .” or “Three parts of our plan. . .” or “Two side effects of this drug. . .” Past, present, and future or East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast are pre-fab structures.
  • Thank the person again for the opportunity to speak.
  • Stop talking (it is easy to “ramble on” when you don’t have something prepared). If in front of an audience, don’t keep talking as you move back to your seat.

Impromptu speeches are generally most successful when they are brief and focus on a single point.

We recommend practicing your impromptu speaking regularly and every day. Do you want to work on reducing your vocalized pauses in a formal setting? Cool! You can begin that process by being conscious of your vocalized fillers during informal conversations and settings.

Extemporaneous

Extemporaneous speaking is the presentation of a carefully planned and rehearsed speech, spoken in a conversational manner using brief notes.

Speaking extemporaneously has some advantages. It promotes the likelihood that you, the speaker, will be perceived as knowledgeable and credible since you know the speech well enough that you don’t need to read it. In addition, your audience is likely to pay better attention to the message because it is engaging both verbally and nonverbally. By using notes rather than a full manuscript (or everything that you’re going to say), the extemporaneous speaker can establish and maintain eye contact with the audience and assess how well they are understanding the speech as it progresses. It also allows flexibility; you are working from the strong foundation of an outline, but if you need to delete, add, or rephrase something at the last minute or to adapt to your audience, you can do so. The outline also helps you be aware of main ideas vs. subordinate ones.

Because extemporaneous speaking is the style used in the great majority of public speaking situations, most of the information in the subsequent sections of this chapter is targeted toward this kind of speaking.

Manuscript speaking is the word-for-word iteration of a written message. In a manuscript speech, the speaker maintains their attention on the printed page except when using presentation aids.

The advantage to reading from a manuscript is the exact repetition of original words. This can be extremely important in some circumstances. For example, reading a statement about your organization’s legal responsibilities to customers may require that the original words be exact. In reading one word at a time, in order, the only errors would typically be mispronunciation of a word or stumbling over complex sentence structure. A manuscript speech may also be appropriate at a more formal affair (like a funeral), when your speech must be said exactly as written in order to convey the proper emotion or decorum the situation deserves.

However, there are costs involved in manuscript speaking. First, it’s typically an uninteresting way to present. Unless the speaker has rehearsed the reading as a complete performance animated with vocal expression and gestures (well-known authors often do this for book readings), the presentation tends to be dull. Keeping one’s eyes glued to the script prevents eye contact with the audience. For this kind of “straight” manuscript speech to hold audience attention, the audience must be already interested in the message and speaker before the delivery begins. Finally, because the full notes are required, speakers often require a lectern to place their notes, restricting movement and the ability to engage with the audience. Without something to place the notes on, speakers have to manage full-page speaking notes, and that can be distracting.

It is worth noting that professional speakers, actors, news reporters, and politicians often read from an autocue device, such as a teleprompter, especially when appearing on television, where eye contact with the camera is crucial. With practice, a speaker can achieve a conversational tone and give the impression of speaking extemporaneously and maintaining eye contact while using an autocue device. However, success in this medium depends on two factors: (1) the speaker is already an accomplished public speaker who has learned to use a conversational tone while delivering a prepared script, and (2) the speech is written in a style that sounds conversational.

Memorized speaking is reciting a written message that the speaker has committed to memory. Actors, of course, recite from memory whenever they perform from a script in a stage play, television program, or movie. When it comes to speeches, memorization can be useful when the message needs to be exact and the speaker doesn’t want to be confined by notes.

The advantage to memorization is that it enables the speaker to maintain eye contact with the audience throughout the speech. Being free of notes means that you can move freely around the stage and use your hands to make gestures. If your speech uses presentation aids, this freedom is even more of an advantage.

Memorization, however, can be tricky. First, if you lose your place and start trying to ad lib, the contrast in your style of delivery will alert your audience that something is wrong. If you go completely blank during the presentation, it will be extremely difficult to find your place and keep going. Obviously, memorizing a typical seven-minute classroom speech takes a great deal of time and effort, and if you aren’t used to memorizing, it is very difficult to pull off.

We recommend playing with all 4 types of delivery (though extemporaneous is most common in public speaking). Once you identify what type of delivery style you’ll use in a speech, it’s time to rehearse.

Rehearsal sounds like homework, we know. Rehearsing your speech, however, doesn’t just assist in increasing one’s speech grade. Rehearsing is your commitment to bettering your foundational communication skills for the long haul.

When you rehearse, you are asking: what kind of aesthetic choices do I want to implement? Aesthetic choices can be enhanced or limited based on the situation and context in which you’re speaking, both physically and culturally. For example, if you are speaking outside without a microphone, your embodiment of the speech and aesthetic scene would differ from a speech with a lectern in a small classroom.

This might be a good place to dispel a few myths about public speaking that can influence perceptions of rehearsal:

Myth #1: You are either born a good public speaker or not. While someone may have certain characteristics that are attractive in our cultural understanding of public speaking, good rehearsal will create conditions for everyone to become better speakers.

Myth #2: Practice makes perfect. It is possible to practice incorrectly, so in that case, practice will make permanent, not perfect. There is a right way and a wrong way to practice a speech, musical instrument, or sport.

Myth #3 : Public speaking is just reading what you wrote or reading and talking at the same time . For example: I (one of your authors) often hear envy over my public speaking abilities, but I certainly was not blessed with a universal speaking gene. Instead, I spent years doing debate, speech, and performance to practice writing arguments, responding to ideas, and crafting a public speaking persona. When I do presentations, I spend lots of time workshopping the speech “on my feet” to determine the best type of delivery, where to emphasize, when to move, while considering the entire scene that’s being created. Because I have practiced a lot, though, I am more confident about these decisions during the rehearsal process so I perform more consistently.

Have you found yourself using one of these myths? Sadly, we often rely on these myths to talk ourselves into believing that public speaking isn’t for us – never was and never will be.

You might also, for example, have attempted rehearsal in the past and thought, “How am I supposed to remember all these words and all these bodily movements at the same time?! It’s impossible!” It’s true: there’s a lot going on when you give a public speech, and focusing on your aesthetic delivery requires a conscious effort. Think about the classic party trick of rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. In the first attempt, you may have struggled (like some of us!). With practice, though, you can find strategies that allow you to accomplish this task that, at first glance, was too much.

One major misconception about rehearsal is that it begins when your speech is completely written. Start rehearsing as soon as you can. Too often, speakers wait until the entire speech is complete – it’s been created, written, and is on paper. We recommend, however, embedding rehearsal workshops throughout your speech preparation. Why?

Rehearsal and workshopping will assist you in translating the written argument into verbal form. “How does this sound?” or “I think I know another example that would work well here.” Using rehearsal to workshop content allows you to listen to the sound of your argument out loud rather than reading on paper only.

Rehearsal, thus, is an ongoing process and part of your entire public speaking preparation. So, now what? What does a good rehearsal consist of?

Check the Space

We’ve been a broken record, we know, but we’ll say it again: think about the context – including the space that you’re speaking in. The space—and resources available within it—will influence your rehearsal because you’ll know the spatial opportunities and constraints. Let’s talk through some key questions that you should ask of the space.

Is there a lectern or podium? If so, should I use it? Many speaking spaces include a lectern or a podium (see Image 11.1) . A lectern is a small raised surface, usually with a slanted top, where a speaker can place notes during a speech. A podium is a raised platform or stage. Both the lectern and podium allow speakers stability while they present, and there’s the added bonus of having some place to rest your speaking notes.

However, even for experienced speakers, it is all too tempting to grip the edges of the lectern with both

Chris Elrod speaking to a church

hands for security (like we discussed in Chapter 9). You might even wish you could hide behind it. Remember, too, that opting to keep your hands at your sides will not be visible to your audience. Be aware of these temptations so you can manage them effectively and present yourself to your audience in a manner they will perceive as confident.

If you opt to use a lectern, your rehearsal should integrate a similar structure. As you rehearse, try stepping to the side or front of the lectern when speaking with free hands, only occasionally standing at the lectern to consult your notes. This will enhance your eye contact as well as free up your hands for gesturing.

What size is the space? If you are accustomed to being in a classroom of a certain size, you will need to make adjustments when speaking in a smaller or larger space.

A large auditorium can be intimidating. Most of us are used to sitting in the seats, not standing on the stage! Because it may be difficult to find a space that large while you rehearse, keep a few things in mind:

  • Be aware that your voice is likely to echo, especially if far fewer people are in the space than it can hold, so you will want to speak more slowly than usual and make use of pauses to mark the ends of phrases and sentences. When you rehearse, slow down to account for the echo – listen to find ways to speak slowly while avoiding a robotic tone.
  • Your facial expressions and gestures should be larger so that they are visible from farther away. If you are using presentation aids, they need to be large enough to be visible from the back of the auditorium. Of course, if you can get the audience to move to the front, that is the best situation, but it tends not to happen.

Limited space is not as disconcerting for most speakers as enormous space, and it has the advantage of minimizing the tendency to pace back and forth while you speak. A small space does call for more careful management of note cards and presentation aids, as your audience will be able to see up close what you are doing with your hands.

What about acoustics? The acoustics of your speaking space can often dictate an audience’s ability to hear and comprehend what you’re saying. If you are speaking outside, your voice is likely to carry and be less insulated than a theatre or small classroom. Remember, if your audience can’t hear you, they can’t experience your speech.

Check for a microphone: using a microphone will amplify your voice, so it is a good choice to increase your

A Sennheiser Microphone

volume in an open or large acoustic space. Remember that a microphone may require that you slow down for the sound to carry. Check to see if it is handheld or can be clipped on. This may seem like a small difference, but it will affect your ability to move and gesture, so this small detail can make a larger impact on your aesthetic choices.

If you have never spoken with a microphone, ask to do a sound check and use that time to perform the first few lines of your speech to get an understanding of how your language will sound through a microphone in that space.

Workshop Strategies

Rehearsal means workshopping the embodiment of your speech. This is key because, as we’ve discussed, a speech is experienced differently by the audience than if they were reading it on a page. The sooner you begin and the sooner you become comfortable with rehearsal, the better your content will translate to the audience. To assist, let’s talk through some rehearsal strategies and best practices. Rather than a linear process, view these processes and strategies as circular or recursive – continue returning to each throughout rehearsal.

Conduct a self-assessment : We often hear, “oh no; I hate to listen to myself talk.” And we get it. It can feel strange to self-assess. While difficult and sometimes frustrating, it’s important to know what kind of speaker you are and what you’d like to improve. For example, are you often quiet and asked to speak up? Or, conversely, are you a loud talker whose booming voice fills up the room with ease?

These general questions about your communication style can begin giving insight into your strengths as a speaker, and the answers will be your focus areas during rehearsal. If you know that you’re a quick-talker, you’ll want to pay attention to pace and consciously integrate additional pauses. If you struggle with eye contact, asking a friend to rehearse with you can increase your comfort with engaging through eye contact.

However, you can only gain so much about your speaking strengths by investigating your general communication style. The best way to get a baseline understanding of your speaking style is to—you guessed it – watch yourself give a speech. Yes, this may feel awkward. But it’s worth it. When watching, we recommend that you identify any aesthetic choices that emerge more than once. After all, you’re looking for key areas to improve, so you want to hone in on things that seem to trip you up over and over.

With that in mind, we recommend two ways to approach conducting a self-assessment: start with general questions and move toward specific examples. Figure 11.1 guides you through this process.

In conducting a self-assessment, your main goal is identifying opportunities for improvement and understanding your current strengths. The more comfortable you become with self-assessing, the less likely you’ll finish a speech and say, “I have no idea what I just did.”

Rehearse with all speaking materials : Rehearse with everything that you’ll speak with. Too often, speakers use their full outline (or even a full manuscript) when rehearsing and make a speaking outline right before standing up to speak. This makes effectiveness difficult, and understandably so. If you’re used to looking down at a full-length paper, using a notecard and a few keywords will feel radically strange and different in the moment.

Instead, rehearse with everything that you’ll speak with, including your speaking notes (check out Chapter 6 for assistance on creating a speaking outline). Speaking notes are your friend, and workshopping with your notes will create consistency and familiarity when you formally speak.

There are benefits beyond familiarity. You can, for example, create cues on your notes that communicate with your future speaking self. Do you have trouble with projection? Use a green highlighter on your speaking notes to remind yourself to “speak up!” The more you rehearse with that green mark, the more confidently and consciously you can work on projecting.

In addition to speaking notes, you should rehearse with any other materials that will be present – a presentational aid, a table, a chair, etc. If you’re using PowerPoint, you’ll want to rehearse with a clicker since you’ll likely have an additional device to hold. As you rehearse, ask: “do I need to hold this the entire time? Can I seamlessly place it on a table nearby? How long does the audience need to experience each slide?”

The more you integrate these materials into your rehearsal, the more seamless they’ll appear the day that you speak. Rather than be burdensome or awkward, they will be part of the speaking experience.

Start over and over and over: That’s right. Rehearsal is an over-and-over-and-over again process not a one-time-through ordeal. While a self-assessment is a key part of rehearsal, you may be unable to video yourself prior to a speech or presentation. In that case, starting over and workshopping repeatedly will be key.

As you begin workshopping, listen to the argumentative flow of your content: does this make sense? Can an idea be clarified? Does the transition connect the main points fully? How does the concluding thought leave the audience? Listening to the arguments will allow you to make aesthetic and delivery choices that will enhance that information.

Try it different ways. Listen. Try it another way. Listen. Do it again.

Successful rehearsal is a process of self-reflection and being comfortable critiquing your own presentational style. You can always (and we recommend) ask others for help – feedback will provide you with different perspectives. These techniques, however, should always happen before the day of your speech. We provide some day-of recommendations below.

The Day of Your Speech

Rehearsal continues until the moment you speak, including the day-of preparation. There are a few day-of rehearsal techniques that we recommend.

Warm up your voice . Have you ever begun talking and instead of a clear, articulate sentence, your voice sounded scratchy and awkward? Perhaps you had to clear your throat for your voice to return. That’s because your muscles weren’t warmed up. When you begin your speech, you want your voice and vocal cords to be warmed up to allow higher blood flow to reduce hoarseness. Consider the following warm-up exercises:

  • Avoid holding tenseness by dropping the shoulders and taking a few deep breaths.
  • Open your mouth as wide as possible, close it, and open it again.
  • Warm up the tongue by rolling the tongue a few times (you know the sound!)
  • Select a few words and work to over-enunciate them by placing extra emphasis as you speak out loud.

These are just a few suggestions to get your vocals warmed up. We know these sound a bit weird, and we don’t often see people standing in the hallway stretching out their mouth or vocal cords. But that’s OK! Find a private spot and try to be comfortable in warming up your vocals.

Warm up your body . Your speech is a full-body experience, so warming up your body is key. Because public speaking is embodied, you want to feel connected with all parts of your body so that you can comfortably and confidently engage. There is no “right way” to warm up, so use warm-up techniques that work best for you. We enjoy deep breathing, stretching, and shaking out the limbs.

Warming up your body can also help reduce the jittery feelings of communication anxiety. If you’re feeling anxious, try implementing strategies to reduce communication apprehension. We recommend looking back over the last section of Chapter 1 – the section provides suggestions on how to reduce and/or manage communication apprehension.

Finally, trust yourself. You have worked hard. You know your stuff. Help the audience experience that time and labor.

This chapter has concluded Part 3 on creating an aesthetic experience. We worked to identify key delivery techniques – impromptu, extemporaneous, manuscript, and memorized.

You now have helpful starting places when workshopping a speech. Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.

Media Attributions

  • ChrisElrod2017 © ChrisElrod is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license
  • SennMicrophone © ChrisEngelsma is licensed under a CC BY-SA (Attribution ShareAlike) license

Speak Out, Call In: Public Speaking as Advocacy Copyright © 2019 by Meggie Mapes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How to Rehearse for an Important Presentation

  • Carmine Gallo

three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

Great speeches are never an accident.

If you want to deliver a spellbinding presentation, rehearse far more than you’ve done in the past. But you don’t want to sound too rehearsed, so you’ll need to balance memorization with spontaneity. Nail down the first two and last two minutes of your speech, and leave room for improvisation in between. And practice under pressure. This mean rehearsing in front of one or two people to get your body used to being in front of a crowd. Then ask for feedback, and rehearse again.

Steve Jobs was the most astonishing business speaker of his time. Bill Gates once called him a “wizard” who “cast spells” on his audience. Fortune magazine proclaimed that his keynotes could set “ hardened hearts aflutter .” Jobs is one of the few CEOs whose presentations have a dedicated  Wikipedia page ; his keynotes alone could  spark a surge in Apple’s stock.

three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

  • Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University instructor, keynote speaker, and author of 10 books translated into 40 languages. Gallo is the author of The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman  (St. Martin’s Press).

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We will take a step-by-step approach to describing the best way to rehearse.

3. Videotaping your speech . It is also a good idea to videotape your speech. Just as some people are uncomfortable hearing their own voice, many people do not like to see themselves on video. However, watching the video will be a great way to boost your confidence and to practice your delivery.

4. Ask one person to be your audience. Ask someone you know who will give you honest feedback to listen, and watch, your rehearsal. Even if you watch your videotape or listen to your recording a hundred times, you will still miss something that a different pair of eyes and ears will discern. It is always desirable to get the benefit of someone else's opinion.

6. Monitor your mannerisms. While you are watching your speech on videotape, you should pay particular attention to your mannerisms. We typically do not notice, or even know we have, certain mannerisms. However, watching ourselves on videotape will provide you with an excellent opportunity to see yourself in action and notice some mannerisms that perhaps should be avoided.

7. If possible, practice at the site of your speech. This is not always possible, of course, but it is an extremely valuable opportunity if you can do so. Practicing at the site will ensure that you will have few surprises on the day of delivery. You will know the look and feel of the place and when you arrive to give your speech, it will be familiar ground.

8. Be sure to practice with your visual aids. This is a common mistake beginning public speakers make. They assume that the important part is to practice their verbal delivery and that it is easy to refer to visual aids. Not so. You want to ensure that you know exactly how, and when , you are going to incorporate your visual aids into your speech. Make notes in your speech on when you will use which aid.

9. Practice with some background noise. To better prepare using a more realistic setting, play some light background music while you are rehearsing your speech. This will mimic some of the noise you will hear while you are giving a speech. It is surprising for some people to know just how much noise an audience can make while listening to a speech, and this can be disconcerting for some speakers.

An important part of your rehearsal process will be the preparation of materials you will have during the delivery of your speech. It is on these materials that you will be making notes as you listen to your voice recording or videotape. Most speakers use one of two options, a printed version of their entire speech, word for word, or note cards. Let us look at both options.

Note cards accomplish three goals, they can contain the right amount of information for you to remember important points in your speech, they are easy to use, and they will not be seen by an audience.

Note cards can be index cards, 3-by-5 inch cards. You can easily fit these cards in your pocket and then take them out when you arrive at the podium. The audience never has to see them. Make sure the cards are numbered in numerical order. This is very important because your cards will be sorted in the order in which you will be delivering your speech. If you drop your cards, it might be disastrous to remember the proper order.

On each card, you will write the main point for each section of your speech, and then the important evidence that you will be citing as support for your main point. You will also make notes about inflection and placing emphasis on certain points.

As an alternative, you could rehearse with the entire text of the speech. For very important speeches, this is considered standard practice, even if you are a seasoned professional. In addition to important speeches, here are some other situations when a full text version is recommended.

  • Every word is vitally important, for example, a political speech.
  • Your time limit is very strict and you cannot deviate from your prepared remarks.
  • You are extremely nervous. Having the full speech in front of your will relax you.

Eye contact, the way you move on stage, and the motions you make is an important part of your message. In fact, there are speech experts who have concluded that the words we use account for less than 40 percent of our message delivery. The rest is communicated through body language and other nonverbal communication. You want to use these movements to your advantage, and you do not want the audience to misunderstand them.

The main obstacle that most people have with poor body language is that they are unaware that they are using such language. The majority of people are not conscious of receiving nonverbal communication from a speaker, but we do register a great deal of thought and we constantly draw conclusions throughout a speech. Therefore, it is often difficult to control what you are not conscious of. This is why rehearsal with a videotape becomes invaluable. It gives you an opportunity to see your body language and to make any necessary adjustments.

Your speech does not begin the moment you start speaking at a podium. Your speech begins the moment the audience sees you. This could be while you are walking toward the stage or across the stage to the podium. First impressions are vitally important for a public speaker, and the audience will form an opinion about before you speak even your first word.

Here are some tips on how to approach a podium before you begin speaking.

  • Walk in an energetic, comfortable manner, but not quickly.
  • If you are using a full text version of your speech, hold it inconspicuously, and then arrange it quickly on the podium.
  • If you are using note cards, pull them out of your pocket after you have arrived at the podium, not while walking toward it.
  • Hold you head up and do not look at the floor. When you arrive at the podium, make sure you are looking directly at the audience.
  • Pause for a moment and take an inconspicuous deep breath before you begin speaking.

It is an established fact of public speaking that the more eye contact you make with an audience, the more effective you message will be communicated. Try to select several members of the audience and make eye contact with them throughout the speech. It could be people you know well who are there to support you, or you can select a stranger. However, be careful not to make eye contact with the same person constantly unless they are a close friend and have given you permission to do so. Too much eye contact with the same person will make that person uncomfortable.

If you are nervous, it is best to keep your hands on the podium at all times, out of sight of the audience. Nervous people tend to have shaky hands, and this will be seen by the audience. You should refrain from drinking water during a speech if you are nervous because your hands will be shaking and the glass will too. If the speaker feels that the audience is noticing this, it will make the speaker even more nervous. However, if you are comfortable using your hands to make gestures during a speech, it is a powerful way of communicating your message.

Here are some gestures that will help you to connect with an audience.

  • Emphatic gestures. These can be used to emphasize a point strongly. Perhaps you are delivering a motivational speech and you want the audience to become involved in something. You can point to them. This is not considered rude. They will feel as if they are involved in your speech. Other emphatic gestures include making a fist, and sweeping your hand in the air to motion to the audience.
  • Using fingers to count points. When people are giving a list to someone else, they often use the fingers on their hands to count them. "Number 1. Get milk, number 2. Get bread, and so on." In a speech, this is often a subtle but very powerful way of letting the audience know that you are enumerating several important points that they should understand.
  • Descriptive gestures. We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words and if a picture is vital to your message, you will have a visual aid. However, if you have not prepared a visual aid and you want to give the audience a general idea of the object you are referencing, you can draw a picture with your fingers and hands.

If you are not using a podium, you may simply be standing on a stage and addressing an audience. If this is the case, you should, contrary to popular belief, keep stage movements at a minimum. No one wants to see someone moving back and forth on a stage while they are giving a speech. It will look amateurish. The simple rule of thumb is to move when it is required, and not much more than that. If you are using a chart, for example, you might occasionally have to walk toward it, and then you can move back to center stage. However, keeping your movements to a minimum will serve you best.

Nonverbal communication is especially important when you are visiting a foreign country. You may be speaking in front of an audience who knows your language, or you might have a translator. Either way, the gestures you think are appropriate in your native country might not be appropriate elsewhere. If you are not absolutely certain about the use of certain hand gestures or body movements, do not make them. It is perfectly acceptable to remain at the podium with your hands on the podium throughout your speech.

We all know by now that you must thoroughly research your audience before you arrive for your speech, and this is especially important when you are visiting a foreign country. However, in addition to research, it is important to convey to a foreign audience that you are honored to have been invited to speak to them. You are an ambassador of your native country and there are some people in the audience who will know some positive and negative stereotypes of your native country. One particularly powerful tactic a speaker can use is to rehearse at least one line of your speech in the foreign language. Make sure that the line is very important or, at the very least, would be very warmly received by the audience. You do not need to speak it perfectly, the audience will be very forgiving and they will be impressed that you made an effort. Either at the beginning or at the end of your speech, deliver this line and you will immediately gain a high level of rapport with the audience.

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How to deliver an oral presentation

Georgina wellstead.

a Lister Hospital, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

Katharine Whitehurst

b Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Buket Gundogan

c University College London

d Guy's St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

Delivering an oral presentation in conferences and meetings can seem daunting. However, if delivered effectively, it can be an invaluable opportunity to showcase your work in front of peers as well as receive feedback on your project. In this “How to” article, we demonstrate how one can plan and successfully deliver an engaging oral presentation.

Giving an oral presentation at a scientific conference is an almost inevitable task at some point during your medical career. The prospect of presenting your original work to colleagues and peers, however, may be intimidating, and it can be difficult to know how to approach it. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that although daunting, an oral presentation is one of the best ways to get your work out there, and so should be looked upon as an exciting and invaluable opportunity.

Slide content

Although things may vary slightly depending on the type of research you are presenting, the typical structure is as follows:

  • Opening slide (title of study, authors, institutions, and date)
  • Methodology
  • Discussion (including strengths and weaknesses of the study)

Conclusions

Picking out only the most important findings to include in your presentation is key and will keep it concise and easy to follow. This in turn will keep your viewers engaged, and more likely to understand and remember your presentation.

Psychological analysis of PowerPoint presentations, finds that 8 psychological principles are often violated 1 . One of these was the limited capacity of working memory, which can hold 4 units of information at any 1 time in most circumstances. Hence, too many points or concepts on a slide could be detrimental to the presenter’s desire to give information.

You can also help keep your audience engaged with images, which you can talk around, rather than lots of text. Video can also be useful, for example, a surgical procedure. However, be warned that IT can let you down when you need it most and you need to have a backup plan if the video fails. It’s worth coming to the venue early and testing it and resolving issues beforehand with the AV support staff if speaking at a conference.

Slide design and layout

It is important not to clutter your slides with too much text or too many pictures. An easy way to do this is by using the 5×5 rule. This means using no more than 5 bullet points per slide, with no more than 5 words per bullet point. It is also good to break up the text-heavy slides with ones including diagrams or graphs. This can also help to convey your results in a more visual and easy-to-understand way.

It is best to keep the slide design simple, as busy backgrounds and loud color schemes are distracting. Ensure that you use a uniform font and stick to the same color scheme throughout. As a general rule, a light-colored background with dark-colored text is easier to read than light-colored text on a dark-colored background. If you can use an image instead of text, this is even better.

A systematic review study of expert opinion papers demonstrates several key recommendations on how to effectively deliver medical research presentations 2 . These include:

  • Keeping your slides simple
  • Knowing your audience (pitching to the right level)
  • Making eye contact
  • Rehearsing the presentation
  • Do not read from the slides
  • Limiting the number of lines per slide
  • Sticking to the allotted time

You should practice your presentation before the conference, making sure that you stick to the allocated time given to you. Oral presentations are usually short (around 8–10 min maximum), and it is, therefore, easy to go under or over time if you have not rehearsed. Aiming to spend around 1 minute per slide is usually a good guide. It is useful to present to your colleagues and seniors, allowing them to ask you questions afterwards so that you can be prepared for the sort of questions you may get asked at the conference. Knowing your research inside out and reading around the subject is advisable, as there may be experts watching you at the conference with more challenging questions! Make sure you re-read your paper the day before, or on the day of the conference to refresh your memory.

It is useful to bring along handouts of your presentation for those who may be interested. Rather than printing out miniature versions of your power point slides, it is better to condense your findings into a brief word document. Not only will this be easier to read, but you will also save a lot of paper by doing this!

Delivering the presentation

Having rehearsed your presentation beforehand, the most important thing to do when you get to the conference is to keep calm and be confident. Remember that you know your own research better than anyone else in the room! Be sure to take some deep breaths and speak at an appropriate pace and volume, making good eye contact with your viewers. If there is a microphone, don’t keep turning away from it as the audience will get frustrated if your voice keeps cutting in and out. Gesturing and using pointers when appropriate can be a really useful tool, and will enable you to emphasize your important findings.

Presenting tips

  • Do not hide behind the computer. Come out to the center or side and present there.
  • Maintain eye contact with the audience, especially the judges.
  • Remember to pause every so often.
  • Don’t clutter your presentation with verbal noise such as “umm,” “like,” or “so.” You will look more slick if you avoid this.
  • Rhetorical questions once in a while can be useful in maintaining the audience’s attention.

When reaching the end of your presentation, you should slow down in order to clearly convey your key points. Using phases such as “in summary” and “to conclude” often prompts those who have drifted off slightly during your presentation start paying attention again, so it is a critical time to make sure that your work is understood and remembered. Leaving up your conclusions/summary slide for a short while after stopping speaking will give the audience time to digest the information. Conclude by acknowledging any fellow authors or assistants before thanking the audience for their attention and inviting any questions (as long as you have left sufficient time).

If asked a question, firstly thank the audience member, then repeat what they have asked to the rest of the listeners in case they didn’t hear the first time. Keep your answers short and succinct, and if unsure say that the questioner has raised a good point and that you will have to look into it further. Having someone else in the audience write down the question is useful for this.

The key points to remember when preparing for an oral presentation are:

  • Keep your slides simple and concise using the 5×5 rule and images.
  • When appropriate; rehearse timings; prepare answers to questions; speak slowly and use gestures/ pointers where appropriate; make eye contact with the audience; emphasize your key points at the end; make acknowledgments and thank the audience; invite questions and be confident but not arrogant.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with regard to the content of this report.

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

Published online 8 June 2017

Module 8: Delivering Your Speech

Rehearsing your speech, learning objectives.

Discuss the benefits of rehearsing your speech.

Just like a Broadway performer learns their lines, studies their role, and practices at home before they present something to an audience, the skilled public speaker will do the same. Why? Not that practice makes perfect, but because preparedness makes confidence!

Preparation

What does it mean to be prepared? In public speaking, it means you have done sufficient topic research, written your speech outline, created visual aids, and rehearsed your speech out loud.

To rehearse effectively, the speaker should:

  • Start early to allow yourself enough time to experiment, revise, and try again during rehearsal.
  • Remember, practice does not make perfect if you continue to practice ineffective strategies. Therefore, you must experiment and learn from the experience to improve the total speech.
  • Speak in a conversational style. If your rehearsal would disturb roommates or family members, speak softly but do rehearse out loud.
  • Rehearse with your graphics and coordinate them to your talk.
  • Practice your nonverbal communication as well as the words you speak. A mirror or a recording can be helpful for this practice session so you can look at your physical delivery and make adjustments to facial expressions and gestures.
  • Make sure you are making eye contact and practice looking up along with speaking words.
  • Time the individual parts and the total speech with a stopwatch and make sure to have a clock that you can see while speaking.
  • Prepare for interruptions and questions. Make sure to leave room for a Q&A session at the end of your speech.
  • During your final rehearsal, make brief notes for yourself so you know how long each point in the speech takes. Then mark your outline accordingly so you know if you are spending too much time on any given point during delivery.

Smartphone with stopwatch app

You’ll need a stopwatch to time your speech.

When you’re ready to rehearse the full speech, you should begin timing each run-through with a stopwatch (you probably have one on your phone, or just type “stopwatch” into a search engine for an online app). Generally, you will have a set amount of time to speak, including Q&A. When rehearsing, you want to make sure to include all the parts of the speech including quotes, examples, video clips, and visual aids. If you don’t include all aspects of the speech, you may run out of time and have to cut short important content during delivery.

Timing is not only about knowing how long you are going to speak, but also about how fast to speak, when to pause, and how long to pause to achieve the desired effect. You can vary the rate of speaking and the use of pausing to achieve different vocal effects as you practice.

Dress rehearsal

If at all possible, do a rehearsal in the actual space where you’ll be presenting. Many classrooms are left empty at certain times of the day and this can make a big difference in the speaker’s comfort level if they’ve already presented it in the actual presentation space. If it’s not possible, your bedroom or living room will do.

Lay out your speaking outfit in advance so you don’t waste time and stress tracking down the right clothes. Many speakers find it helpful to rehearse in the clothes they intend to wear for the speech.

While it may seem tedious to rehearse so much, speakers who practice their speech in advance are way more confident and relaxed during the actual presentation. Very little can go wrong when you already know how you want it to go. It is also much easier to adjust to little things like equipment malfunctions, timing changes, and interruptions when you know that the speech content is solid.

  • Rehearsing the Speech. Provided by : Boundless, adapted by Lumen Learning. Located at : https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-communications/chapter/rehearsing-the-speech/ . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Stopwatch. Authored by : Ritesh Man Tamrakar. Located at : https://flic.kr/p/mFUttz . License : CC BY-SA: Attribution-ShareAlike
  • Rehearsing Your Speech. Authored by : Misti Wills with Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution

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three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

Your Path to Perfect: Guide to Rehearsing a Presentation

by Janice Tomich

  • Presentation Planning & Public Speaking Skills

Would you be surprised to hear that practicing a presentation is as important as the words you actually share? And that you should spend as much time rehearsing your speech as you did creating your presentation?

The presenters you admire—the ones that seem so at ease with their effortless delivery—appear polished because of the amount of time they invest in practicing their presentation skills.

Their natural delivery might lull you into thinking they’ve spent little time practicing.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m a professional presentation coach , and I’ve guided over 1000 clients in the process of writing, practicing, and delivering presentations and keynote addresses .

Here are the tips and advice I give my clients on how to effectively rehearse for an upcoming presentation.

Table of Contents

How Much Should you Practice your Presentation Delivery?

As you practice, you’ll find that your presentation will evolve. It will become a more effective presentation as you make tweaks and adjustments. This evolution is likely to take more time than you anticipate.

To ensure you’ve given yourself lots of time to be stage ready, work backwards from the day you will be delivering your presentation, and then schedule in presentation practice time, with practices starting at least two weeks before you plan to walk on stage.

Don’t practice your presentation in the theatre of your mind. It’s only by actually articulating the words out loud that you will understand the messaging that works and the messaging that doesn’t.

I tell my clients they should practice until they get sick of hearing their own voice—that once that happens they’ll know they have practiced enough. They look at me in disbelief, because they usually want the hard numbers.

But there isn’t a prescriptive or magic number of hours your need to practice. It’s a knowing…knowing that you intuitively can speak to all of your content fluidly and you can transition from concept to concept with ease.

I do understand that most people want to know how many hours to schedule into their calendar, so the number that many professional speaking coaches quote is that for a one hour presentation you’ll need 30 hours of practice.

Yes, 30 hours of practice!

However, as I mentioned above, it’s not about a prescriptive amount of time but rather that you must ensure you are practiced enough to deliver your presentation with confidence. The longer the speech the more time you’ll need to practice. New presentations (ones which are not an adaptation of a previous one) also require more practice time. New public speakers often need more practice than seasoned ones, because experienced speakers know what to expect and how to adjust if things don’t go according to plan. New speakers are still honing their presentation skills.

You should also know that professional public speakers tend to spend more time practicing than business professionals. After all, a professional public speaker has a whole career and income around speaking. They need to deliver top-tier presentations that will influence and engage their audiences, and they treat presentation practice like the professionals they are.

“I was preparing for four presentations and although already comfortable with speaking in front of an audience, I was looking to hone my skills. We worked through all of the presentations together and I felt confident and prepared as I delivered them. “

three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

​​​​Deanna Sparling Director of Operations – Barberstock System

Tips for Effective Presentation Practice

1. don’t memorize your speech.

What is the right amount of time to schedule to practice a presentation?

My first rule of thumb is not to be tempted to memorize your presentation word for word. Audiences can tell when a speaker has memorized their presentation. It’s obvious because there is a flavour of performance art—the delivery is a bit disassociated from the words.

Memorized presentations sound robotic because it’s hard to instil passion in them—they lose their fresh, conversational vibe.

Rote memorization also sets you up for a big problem. Forget one word and you’ll look like a deer in headlights and be grappling for what to speak to next.

2. Pull Out the Key Concepts of the Presentation

Instead of memorizing your speech, follow these guidelines instead:

  • Practice your full script once or twice out loud.
  • Gather a stack of note cards.
  • Scan through your presentation and write down key concepts – one concept per card.
  • Do a few practice run throughs (again, out loud) expanding from the key points on your cards.

You’ll be surprised at how much you know and remember using this technique.

Many speakers have a hard time letting go of their notes. Notes are like a pacifier. When my clients toss them, I know it’s one of the toughest leaps of faith they need to take.

What’s the benefit to tossing your notes? You’ll sound natural, at ease, and confident.

3. Use Visual Cueing to Help You Remember Your Key Points

One of my very first clients was scheduled to deliver at a conference with a few months to prepare. Sadly, the previous year she had been in a massive car wreck and suffered a brain stem injury that affected her memory. First we worked together on the content, and then I created a method to help her deliver her words.

We used the key concepts technique above, but for each key concept, we associated it with a visual aid—an image which aligned to each key concept. For each concept we used an image that would trigger its meaning. Some of the images made no sense to me but it was the right trigger for her.

She practiced from these visual vies and once she had made a solid connection she memorized the images in order. It wasn’t easy—it took a lot of work. And she pulled it off beautifully.

I tell this story to demonstrate the real value in aligning concepts with visual cues. When I practice presentations, I’m usually in my living room. In a clockwise motion I attach each key concept to a piece of furniture … chair, credenza, couch, etc. I practice with each piece of furniture triggering my memory and then riff off of the key concepts.

Some clients find this too discombobulating. For some, having to retrieve the images conjured up from their home while standing on a stage is too confusing. For those clients, I recommend they use their own body from the top of their head to the tip of their toes as visual markers, assigning one key message per body part.

If you’re lost and unsure about how to make your presentation compelling, I can help.

4. Only Practice the Parts of the Speech You Trip Over

As my requests to speak at events grew, I soon realized that practicing a presentation from start to finish each time was time consuming. Many new public speakers fall into this trap as well. A better approach, once you have your presentation in good shape, is to only practice the parts which challenge you. This technique does double duty. It saves lots of time, and it also prevents over learning/memorizing.

And while you’re practicing…

5. Record Yourself Rehearsing Your Presentation

Man video taping his presentation practice

Many people shy away from recording themselves and then critiquing the playbacks. Once I got out of my own way, I realized how valuable video and audio recordings are. My clients say the same thing. Watching a video or audio recording of your own speech is one of the richest possible forms of public speaking feedback .

The trick is to remove your ego. Put your critiquing hat though you’re watching or listening to someone you don’t know.

Review Your Presentation Recordings and Answer These Self-Critique Questions

  • Does your opening hook your audience in within the first 30 seconds?
  • Have you established a solid through line? Is it obvious during your entire presentation?
  • Is your content persuasive? Have you established common ground and then inched your audience along to influence them?
  • Does each concept flow well into the next? Are the transitions smooth?
  • Is your audience inspired by your close? What will they do because of your presentation?
  • Are you using the full power of your voice and mannerisms that communicate engaging body language?
  • Are you relying on too many filler words?
  • Did you pace your content well—will your audience be able to easily follow your arguments?
  • Do you appear relaxed? Are you presenting confidently ?

Once you answer these questions, take note of the problems you’ve identified and apply them to your next practice round. It’s doing the hard work and learning these nuances that support masterful delivery during your actual presentation.

Body Language: Practicing Gestures

Should you practice your gestures when rehearsing your presentation?

When you practice and deliver your presentation with passion, confidence, and conviction as you would do as a speaker for TED Talk, your gestures and body language will naturally be in tune with your words.

There may be a few gestures you want to use for emphasis but to memorize each gesture will have you looking stilted and awkward.

Knowing When You Are Ready to Present

Your first practices should be on your own until you are confident in your content and how you’ll deliver it.

Once you’re in a solid place, I recommend practicing in front of colleagues that have lots of public speaking experience. Better yet, work with me —I’m a communication specialist and public speaking coach who has worked with over 1000 clients to get them prepared to stand behind a podium or on stage.

Clock is winding down until the man needs to deliver his presentation. Here are some tips on how to rehearse if time is limited.

But don’t work until the last minute. It’s important to block concentrated scheduled presentation practice time … and also have rest time to integrate the learning.

“To join the stars, do less. But do the work with absolute, intense, and hard focus. And when you’re done, be done, and go enjoy the rest of the day.” Amir Afianian

An overburdened mind is not capable of efficiently learning a presentation (cramming for exams in uni didn’t work either.)

If you are up against a time crunch, I recommend you at least practice and learn the start of your presentation and conclusion of your presentation . Embed to memory the logical flow of your key points and from there, as time permits, practice ‘riffing’ off your points.

I’ve never delivered a presentation or had a client report back after a presentation saying they wished they’d practiced less.

The passion for your craft or industry shines through when you invest the time in practicing your presentation that shines a light on you as a professional public speaker.

Do You Need Help With Your Next Presentation?

Developing and creating a presentation on your own without professional feedback is challenging. If you’re stuck on how to clearly communicate your message, book a 1-hour presentation strategy session with me. I’ll help you get on track to deliver a presentation that is interesting, exciting, and engaging.

If you need support to create a presentation from a few scribbled notes on a napkin, I can help you with that too -> Prepare For Your Upcoming Presentation, Speech, or Talk .

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three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

Give the keynote. Without the nerves.

Frantically Speaking

13 Tips For Rehearsing A Presentation

Hrideep barot.

  • Presentation , Public Speaking , Speech Writing

This picture depicts how the person is preparing for his presentation.

What is Presentation Rehearsal?

“Picasso didn’t wait until he was Picasso to perform like Picasso”. Robin Sharma

Have you ever been on stage to give a presentation? If yes, have you ever just thought ‘I should have prepared more thoroughly’ or ‘Maybe I should have just written everything down or read directly’. Do you wonder why such thoughts appear in your head? 

This is because you are not well-rehearsed or may even be unsure about your material. There are too many emotions at the same time such as nervousness, fear of messing up or even just going completely blank on stage.

Presentation rehearsal is when the speaker that is also the presenter in this case prepares himself by practising his presentation to get the knack of his skill. 

Why is Rehearsing for the Presentation Important?

To master the art of giving a flawless presentation the key is to practice or rehearse before the grand finale that is your presentation.

Rehearsal is an imperative step to give a satisfactory presentation. Why is that you may ask even though a presentation can be given without rehearsal?  

To answer your question, yes you can give a presentation even without rehearsal or practice but that presentation won’t be as marvellous as the one with practice.

Also, there is a high possibility that you may end up messing with the presentation because of a few mistakes here and there. This can be avoided by rehearsing.

Advantages of Rehearsing for a Presentation

When you rehearse your presentation you will:

  • build up your confidence
  • be familiar with your material 
  • administer your learning of public speaking to assess what works for you and what doesn’t 
  • know where you are lacking and this will help correct your mistakes
  • make your content even more comprehensive by cutting out the unnecessary things
  • become skilled and polished
  • master body language
  • will be able to complete on time

How Long Should You Practice for a Presentation?

The presenter can practice for 1-hour keeping in mind all the other factors such as rough outline, slides and time. The presenter must time everything accordingly and then practice.

She/he can also calculate and rehearse. For instance, if your presentation is for 20 minutes you can rehearse for 80 minutes straight.

Rehearsing can also depend on how satisfied you are with your performance and so time may differ respectively. There is no certain limit as to how long you can rehearse.

How Many Times Should You Rehearse a Presentation?

The presenter can practice their presentation a minimum of 3 times and a maximum of 10 times. The more you rehearse the better the results. And like it’s rightly said, ‘Practice makes a man perfect”.

Rehearse your presentation from start to end including the slides of your presentation. Only speaking may not be that effective as compared to when you rehearse with your presentation included.

A tip would be that if it is possible and you have time at your hand then start practising 10 days before your presentation. Practice 1 time through your entire presentation every day at the least. The results will astound you.

Presentational Rehearsal Checklist

Follow this step by step list to know what you need to tick of when rehearsing for a presentation.

  • Commence with taking presentation notes
  • Accustom yourself with your material
  • Rehearse with your presentation
  • Time your presentation
  • Rehearse out loud
  • Rehearse in front of a mirror
  • Voice record your practice
  • Video record your practice
  • Rehearse in front of a single person
  • Rehearse in front of an audience
  • Preparing for the ‘if’ situation
  • Experiment with your presentation
  • Pay a visit to the location where you will be presenting

1. Commence with taking presentation notes

PowerPoint has a feature in which the presenter can write his notes at the bottom of the slide. Given below is an example of where to add notes in your presentation.

An example of how to add notes in power point presentation.

These notes will not be visible on the slideshow but only to you when you are presenting in presenter mode.

Put your entire statements into bullet points which will make it easy to present your presentation. 

While rehearsing don’t just mug up the script but understand it. Even if you forget your script you can refer to these points while presenting and this won’t create a blunder.

2. Accustom yourself with your material

While rehearsing, presenters often face the problem of ‘Where should I start from?’ 

Start from going rough the outline of the presentation then move forward to what is the main body or content of the presentation and then finally combine both and rehearse your unified presentation as a whole.

Knowing your material is a great start to your presentation. Knowing your speech backwards and forward is a sign of a great presenter.

If you as a presenter are well acquainted with what is in your material you can then utilize that time focusing on other factors.

3. Rehearse with your presentation

Often presenters make a frequent mistake and that is they never rehearse with their presentation. They focus more on the delivery part of the speech rather than rehearsing with both, the speech and the actual slides.

If you don’t rehearse with your slides, how will you know which slide comes next or how to time each of your slides?

This will be a disadvantage when you present on the final day because then there will be too many things and you won’t know how to manage both.

4. Time your presentation

Timing your presentation when rehearsing will not let you exceed the limit on the main day of your presentation. Time is the most vital element in your presentation. 

Decide how much time you will spend on each slide. When you practice considering the allotted time you won’t exceed the actual time of the presentation. You will also cover everything that you wanted to say and may also get done with it early. 

Time can either make your presentation or break your presentation.

Exceeding the time limit will make the audience lose interest which is a bad sign for the presenter.

5. Rehearse out loud

Reading your material out loud will help you remember points easily.

When I was in school, my dad told me that if you read your answers loudly the words will remain fresh in your memory rather than repeating the answer 10 times and just mugging up. Feel your words and monitor your energy level.

If you are confused and don’t know what to do instead of memorizing then follow this article ‘To Memorize or to Not: A Public Speaker’s Dilemma’ for the best guidance. This article will inform you about the problem with memorizing and how you can overcome this problem.

Use this technique and read out your text at least 2-3 times a day. People who practice debates also use this technique. 

6. Rehearse in front of a mirror

This is how one should rehearse in front of a mirror for a presentation.

When you rehearse in front of a mirror you will get an idea of how you look while presenting. You can make out what actions are going wrong and correct them. 

You can also look at your facial expressions up-close and know exactly how your face changes with what you say. 

Looking in the mirror and rehearsing your speech will also give you confidence. All the minor details that you may have missed may come out with this technique and you get the chance to correct those mistakes.

7. Voice Record your practice

Rehearsing using voice record.

Recording yourself rehearse is also one way to rehearse. When you record yourself while practising you will find that your voice may sound a bit different but that’s natural. 

It is witnessed that through recording you will find unwanted pauses in your speech presentation such as ‘Umm’, ‘Uh’ and ‘Ah’. These pauses just make your presentation look weak. So rehearsing with recording can help you erase such mistakes from your speech.

Keep listening to your recording when you are free or doing something that doesn’t need your attention. Listening to the recording continuously will accustom you to the material and presentation.

8. Video record your practice

Using video recording as a means to practice and prepare for a presentation.

Video recording your rehearsal is different from the voice recording. In a voice recording, you can just hear your voice but in a video recording, you can see yourself and notice all the hand gestures and movements you make while speaking.

Don’t just focus on just words, but also focus on body language. Tone, voice, pitch, are a part of vocals. Observe how you sound, ‘Are you too loud?’ or ‘Are you too slow?’

When I asked my friend what do you to rehearse your speech before a presentation she said I video record myself. In today’s time, this is the most used technique of them all.

Why is it you may ask? This is because video recording the entire practice is easy and covers everything together in just one video. Also, make sure you make eye contact and smile while presenting. All these little things can make a huge difference in your presentation. 

Body language has a wide scope in communication and public speaking. We have written an article on  Body Language and Its Contribution to the Process of Communication . Read this to know in detail about body language.

You will also get feedback about the different errors you make like not making eye contact or fidgeting with your hands.

9. Rehearse in front of a single person

Rehearsing in front of a person is different from rehearsing in front of a mirror or camera. In this case, you will get real spoken feedback from the person you are rehearsing in front of.

Preferably choose a person you are close to because that person will be honest and not be worried about hurting your feelings. She/he won’t be biased and point out the mistakes you have made.

10. Rehearse in front of an audience

Yet again rehearsing in front of an audience is different from rehearsing in front of a single person.

The larger the crowd the more you get nervous. Standing in front of a group and giving a presentation may seem easy but when the spotlight is on you there are hundreds of things going on in your head. 

Hence, when you practice beforehand there is a certain sense of calm because you have already gone through that experience and you know what to say, how to move. This also boosts your confidence and you may show better results.

11. Preparing for the ‘if’ situation

What is the ‘if’ situation? Here, the presenter must be prepared entirely for any unpredictable thing to happen.

We are assuming that even if something goes wrong the presenter is mentally prepared and does not panic. The presenter must improvise and not let it affect his presentation.

For instance- A sudden electricity cut down takes place at the location of your presentation. Be prepared to present without a PPT.

Someone from the audience may say something offensive. Don’t lose your calm and be patient. Handle the situation with ease.

These things should be kept in mind while rehearsing for the presentation.

12. Experiment with your presentation

While rehearsing you may have noticed somethings that may sound off. Instead of just going with that and repeating the same things change your words and ways. 

Experiment with your material and fit in the best quality of content. Do not compromise with your content. 

Make it interesting and innovative. Ask questions, play a quiz, tell a funny story etc. All these things will make your presentation so much more appealing.

13. Pay a visit to the location where you will be presenting

Location where the presenter will be presenting the presentation. Visiting for technical rehearsal.

If it is possible and in your hand, visit the location of your presentation to get a better idea of what you will be dealing with.

Do a technical rehearsal of your entire presentation one time with the lights, the slides and the mic to ensure that everything is working properly. This technical rehearsal will give you a little confidence and keep your nervousness in check.

Get well acquainted with the gadget that you will be using to present your presentation. If it is possible for you, load the presentation on the selected technology at the location and test it.

Should You Memorize a Presentation or Not?

The answer to this question depends entirely on you. It’s not like it’s a restriction but it would be beneficial if the speaker does not just memorize for the sake of delivering.

Drawbacks of memorizing

Why is that so? Memorizing your entire speech is not a crime but the drawback is that if you forget a sentence or even a word for that matter you will end up forgetting the next part of your presentation as it is all connected and interdependent.

Memorizing may also lead you to recite the presentation in the same manner as it is written. Not adding your personal tinge to the presentation will make it sound bookish. You don’t want to sound too robotic with no emotions, pauses and interaction with the audience.

What to do instead of memorizing?

Instead of memorizing the entire presentation word to word one way is to rehearse by trying to understand the framework of the presentation. Create an outline and this will automatically help you understand the core of your material.

Another way is to visualize your speech. What this means is that usually, people tend to remember visual images or symbols as compared to chunks of texts.

For example, when I was in my 10 th grade my tutor told me to write the important headings in colour. Using different colours helps remember the headings clearly.

Using colours to memorize the material.

For instance, my heading is ‘Rehearsing in front of the mirror’ and I use the colour red to highlight that heading so while presenting I will instantly recall the colour and know what it is for. This may also help remember the order according to the colours.

 When you rehearse regularly you almost know what to say next and this is different from memorization.

Things to Watch Out for When Rehearsing a Presentation

There are certain things that the presenter must watch out for to give a meaningful presentation. Here are some points that will help you understand what you must watch out for. Consider these points while you rehearse for a presentation.

1. Apologizing to the audience

Apologizing may vary according to the situation and the degree of mistake the presenter makes. Apologizing unnecessarily may of course leave a bad remark for your skills.

An unsaid ‘never apologize for rule’ is noticed in public speaking because apologizing is seen as highlighting the mistake and giving it more importance. But for instance, if the mistake is prominent then apologizing would be a smart move.

So rehearse in such a way that even if you tend to make a mistake you can cover it up cleanly.

2. Asking questions when statements would be clearer

Sometimes the presenter may use questions which are not really applicable to the format of the speech. In place of a statement she/he has asked a question. The answer to which is not really required.

For instance, if you are speaking about the importance of rehearsing in a presentation and you have to say, “There is a high possibility that you may end up messing with the presentation because of a few mistakes here and there”.

But you end up saying, “Is it possible to mess up the presentation because of a few mistakes?”This question was not required in this context and it will break the flow of what you are saying.

In such a case, the audience will get disoriented and not know what to answer or even if they do have to answer.

3. Introducing too much vocabulary

Try not to use too many complex and heavy words. When you practice remember to use a simple and easy language. If the audience is unable to comprehend what the presenter is saying then the entire presentation seems baseless.

4. Redundancies and repetition

At times the presenter may keep repeating the same sentence or word again and again. Why? This is because the audience may have missed that point and the presenter repeats it to draw the audience’s attention to that specific piece of information.

But when the presenter starts repeating unnecessary and smaller statements then it leads to irritation in the form of disinterest.

Edit out the redundant adjectives from your speech such as ‘very’, ‘good’, ‘nice’ etc. Don’t add too many phrases and long statements. The longer you stretch your presentation the more the people will start getting distracted.

Avoid using slangs in a presentation. A presentation is believed to be a formal event and using slangs will make the presentation and even the setting seem casual.

5. Reading from slides

Avoid directly reading what is written word to word in the slides. This is a big NO! You don’t want the audience to think less of you. Reading from slides will do exactly that.

Make bullet points of your notes so that when you are delivering your speech you can emphasize the key points. Rehearse with these bullet points to get a hang of how you will deliver on your official day.

6. Whispering or yelling

Be aware of what tone you use while presenting. When you video record your rehearsal check if you are either whispering or yelling.

In this picture the man is yelling while giving a speech.

The people in the front row must not get repulsed by your presentation and your speech. Be neutral with your tone, not too loud and not too slow.

7. Nervous pacing or awkward stillness

While you rehearse keep in mind that you must master your body language with your presentation. Both must go hand in hand.

Don’t pace while speaking and ensure you don’t stand still either. You are not a prop or poll. So, move around a bit while asking questions.

We have written an article on “To walk or stand still: How should you present when on stage?” . This article will guide you about ‘Where to stand?’ , ‘Things to avoid while standing on stage’, ‘How to stop swaying during a speech’ etc.

8. Forcing emotions

Emotions are very essential while presenting.  If you seem dull and weary while presenting, the audience may get the wrong message.

While in comparison if you seem enthusiastic they may show interest as well. Though don’t ever force emotions that you don’t feel in your presentation. The audience is quick to catch.

Forcing emotions may leave a negative impact and spoil the presentation.

9. Unnecessary slides

When creating your presentation make a list of all the important pointers you will add and cut off the unnecessary information.

Don’t keep adding slides to extend your presentation. Long presentations tend to exhaust the audience as compared to short and crisp presentations.

10. Purely anecdotal evidence

Presenters should not always rely on unproven facts or information.

At times it so happens that when the speaker adds information that is not proven and someone in the audience may be familiar with it they may judge you according to this small error.

The audience may then question your credibility. So avoid adding anecdotal evidence in your presentation.

Practice Public Speaking in Your Day to Day Life

Apart from just practising public speaking when you have a presentation scheduled you can make it a point to rehearse public speaking in your daily life.

Practising public speaking in your everyday hectic life may sound perplexing but it’s a good start to improve your public speaking skills. Taking a little extra effort to rehearse every day will only help prepare you for future presentations.

It not only makes you an able speaker but also helps build your personality strongly. 3 ways you can add practising public speaking in your daily life.

1. The emoji technique

One way to practice your presentation every day is to practice at home. Rehearse when you don’t have any presentation lined up, but rehearse to enhance your art. Use the emoji technique of facial expressions.

What is the emoji technique? In this technique, you make faces similar to those of the emoji.

This picture is of different emojis which give an example of the emoji technique for facial expressions.

For instance, there is a happy face emoji so you enact that exact facial expression. The same goes for the angry face emoji, puzzled face emoji and so on.

 It may seem absurd at first but you will eventually see the result. Facial expressions are a part of delivering a speech so rehearsing your facial expressions may be a step up for a good presentation.

2. Give a speech to everybody and anybody

What this means is rehearse in front of anyone ready to listen to you and may even help point out the errors you make. Talk to them in such a way, like you would do when presenting.

Have a mental checklist of all the key points you have to cover, make eye contact, smile, use a soft tone but make sure its impactful, use hand gestures as a way of communication.

All these elements are a part and parcel of public speaking and making use of them in your daily conversations may help you strengthen your foundation.

3. Walk and rehearse

What will this technique do? In the first place, you will gain self-confidence and secondly, this will make you stronger with delivering your speech without errors.

When you walk and rehearse in front of strangers they will keep looking at you. It is human nature. When you rehearse daily, day by day you won’t get bothered by the stares. You will also get used to the staring of people in your surroundings.

The point is you won’t get nervous or distracted when you give your presentation in front of an audience who is looking at you while you present.

Israelmore Ayivor very rightly said, “People who become successful take every “today’s victory” as a rehearsal for tomorrows trophy.”

Take inspiration from this saying because rehearsal does make a difference in your presentation. The more you rehearse the better the outcome.

To become a skilful presenter/speaker is not a gift, you need to work for it. Follow the three Ds: Discipline, Dedication and Determination. This will not only bring you closer to success but also make you an accomplished speaker/presenter.

Hrideep Barot

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Rehearse Your Presentation

2. practice: rehearsing with your slideshow.

Rehearsal is essential to giving an effective presentation. Rehearsing increases your confidence, ensures you are familiar with your material and allows you to polish your presentation skills. It is important to not only practice delivering your talk, but to practice using your visual aids.

  • Rehearse your presentation to yourself at first (speak in front of a mirror or to the cat), then to a friend or colleague.
  • Time your rehearsal. Make sure you can complete your talk within the allotted time.
  • Rehearse with your slideshow. Practicing running it at the same time as your talk will ensure that it looks and operates as you expect.
  • Make sure that the structure of your talk matches the sequence of your visual aids.
  • Consider the timing of your slideshow. Does it fit with your words? Is there too much on-screen movement? Too many mouse clicks too close together?

3. Performance: Managing the equipment

While PowerPoint slides add interest to a presentation, they can also add distractions and technical issues that you need to prepare for.

3.1 Before your presentation

Visit the room where you will be presenting

  • Try to have a rehearsal with the equipment so you know how everything works and how to locate it.
  • Make sure that your visuals are compatible and will open on the computer.  Check that the visuals looks the way you intended.
  • If you are using your own laptop, make sure that you are able to connect it to the overhead projector via the computer console.
  • Locate the power outlet and check that you can plug in your equipment. Will you need an extension cord or a double adaptor?

Examine the layout of the room

  • Where is the computer located? Where will you need to stand to operate it?
  • Where is the projection screen? Do you know how to switch it on? If there is no screen, use a clean white space—a wall or whiteboard will suffice
  • Where is the projector located? Where should you stand to avoid blocking the screen?
  • How light is the room? Will you need to dim any lights, or close the curtains before your presentation begins?

3.1 On the day of your presentation

You're likely to feel nervous and want to concentrate on what you have to say. Preparing your equipment can increase your confidence and give you one less thing to be concerned about.

Minimise stress by getting the practical preparations out of the way. Arrive early and set up and check the equipment before your presentation starts. Make sure that:

  • The computer is running and set up correctly.
  • The computer will open your slideshow file.
  • The projector is switched on and in focus.
  • The projection screen/ area is set up.

Ask a friend or colleague who understands the technology to help you set up, and to be on hand during your presentation.

Always have a back-up plan

Remember that PowerPoint may look great, but technical failures do happen. To spare possible embarrassment, it's a good idea to have a back-up. Print your slides on overhead transparencies or make slide handouts just in case.

 See next: Common mistakes made using PowerPoint

Oral presentations.

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  • Preparing your oral presentation
  • Tutorial discussion and visuals
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  • Common mistakes
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How to prepare and deliver an effective oral presentation

  • Related content
  • Peer review
  • Lucia Hartigan , registrar 1 ,
  • Fionnuala Mone , fellow in maternal fetal medicine 1 ,
  • Mary Higgins , consultant obstetrician 2
  • 1 National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  • 2 National Maternity Hospital, Dublin; Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Medicine and Medical Sciences, University College Dublin
  • luciahartigan{at}hotmail.com

The success of an oral presentation lies in the speaker’s ability to transmit information to the audience. Lucia Hartigan and colleagues describe what they have learnt about delivering an effective scientific oral presentation from their own experiences, and their mistakes

The objective of an oral presentation is to portray large amounts of often complex information in a clear, bite sized fashion. Although some of the success lies in the content, the rest lies in the speaker’s skills in transmitting the information to the audience. 1

Preparation

It is important to be as well prepared as possible. Look at the venue in person, and find out the time allowed for your presentation and for questions, and the size of the audience and their backgrounds, which will allow the presentation to be pitched at the appropriate level.

See what the ambience and temperature are like and check that the format of your presentation is compatible with the available computer. This is particularly important when embedding videos. Before you begin, look at the video on stand-by and make sure the lights are dimmed and the speakers are functioning.

For visual aids, Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Mac Keynote programmes are usual, although Prezi is increasing in popularity. Save the presentation on a USB stick, with email or cloud storage backup to avoid last minute disasters.

When preparing the presentation, start with an opening slide containing the title of the study, your name, and the date. Begin by addressing and thanking the audience and the organisation that has invited you to speak. Typically, the format includes background, study aims, methodology, results, strengths and weaknesses of the study, and conclusions.

If the study takes a lecturing format, consider including “any questions?” on a slide before you conclude, which will allow the audience to remember the take home messages. Ideally, the audience should remember three of the main points from the presentation. 2

Have a maximum of four short points per slide. If you can display something as a diagram, video, or a graph, use this instead of text and talk around it.

Animation is available in both Microsoft PowerPoint and the Apple Mac Keynote programme, and its use in presentations has been demonstrated to assist in the retention and recall of facts. 3 Do not overuse it, though, as it could make you appear unprofessional. If you show a video or diagram don’t just sit back—use a laser pointer to explain what is happening.

Rehearse your presentation in front of at least one person. Request feedback and amend accordingly. If possible, practise in the venue itself so things will not be unfamiliar on the day. If you appear comfortable, the audience will feel comfortable. Ask colleagues and seniors what questions they would ask and prepare responses to these questions.

It is important to dress appropriately, stand up straight, and project your voice towards the back of the room. Practise using a microphone, or any other presentation aids, in advance. If you don’t have your own presenting style, think of the style of inspirational scientific speakers you have seen and imitate it.

Try to present slides at the rate of around one slide a minute. If you talk too much, you will lose your audience’s attention. The slides or videos should be an adjunct to your presentation, so do not hide behind them, and be proud of the work you are presenting. You should avoid reading the wording on the slides, but instead talk around the content on them.

Maintain eye contact with the audience and remember to smile and pause after each comment, giving your nerves time to settle. Speak slowly and concisely, highlighting key points.

Do not assume that the audience is completely familiar with the topic you are passionate about, but don’t patronise them either. Use every presentation as an opportunity to teach, even your seniors. The information you are presenting may be new to them, but it is always important to know your audience’s background. You can then ensure you do not patronise world experts.

To maintain the audience’s attention, vary the tone and inflection of your voice. If appropriate, use humour, though you should run any comments or jokes past others beforehand and make sure they are culturally appropriate. Check every now and again that the audience is following and offer them the opportunity to ask questions.

Finishing up is the most important part, as this is when you send your take home message with the audience. Slow down, even though time is important at this stage. Conclude with the three key points from the study and leave the slide up for a further few seconds. Do not ramble on. Give the audience a chance to digest the presentation. Conclude by acknowledging those who assisted you in the study, and thank the audience and organisation. If you are presenting in North America, it is usual practice to conclude with an image of the team. If you wish to show references, insert a text box on the appropriate slide with the primary author, year, and paper, although this is not always required.

Answering questions can often feel like the most daunting part, but don’t look upon this as negative. Assume that the audience has listened and is interested in your research. Listen carefully, and if you are unsure about what someone is saying, ask for the question to be rephrased. Thank the audience member for asking the question and keep responses brief and concise. If you are unsure of the answer you can say that the questioner has raised an interesting point that you will have to investigate further. Have someone in the audience who will write down the questions for you, and remember that this is effectively free peer review.

Be proud of your achievements and try to do justice to the work that you and the rest of your group have done. You deserve to be up on that stage, so show off what you have achieved.

Competing interests: We have read and understood the BMJ Group policy on declaration of interests and declare the following interests: None.

  • ↵ Rovira A, Auger C, Naidich TP. How to prepare an oral presentation and a conference. Radiologica 2013 ; 55 (suppl 1): 2 -7S. OpenUrl
  • ↵ Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for making good oral presentations. PLos Comput Biol 2007 ; 3 : e77 . OpenUrl PubMed
  • ↵ Naqvi SH, Mobasher F, Afzal MA, Umair M, Kohli AN, Bukhari MH. Effectiveness of teaching methods in a medical institute: perceptions of medical students to teaching aids. J Pak Med Assoc 2013 ; 63 : 859 -64. OpenUrl

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Chapter 3: Oral Presentations

Patricia Williamson

Many academic courses require students to present information to their peers and teachers in a classroom setting. Such presentations are usually in the form of a short talk, often, but not always, accompanied by visual aids such as a PowerPoint. Yet, students often become nervous at the idea of speaking in front of a group. This chapter aims to help calms those nerves.

This chapter is divided under five headings to establish a quick reference guide for oral presentations.

  • A beginner, who may have little or no experience, should read each section in full.
  • For the intermediate learner, who has some experience with oral presentations, review the sections you feel you need work on.
  • If you are an experienced presenter then you may wish to jog your memory about the basics or gain some fresh insights about technique.

The Purpose of an Oral Presentation

Generally, oral presentation is public speaking, either individually or as a group, the aim of which is to provide information, to entertain, to persuade the audience, or to educate. In an academic setting, oral presentations are often assessable tasks with a marking criteria. Therefore, students are being evaluated on two separate-but-related competencies within a set timeframe: the ability to speak and the quality of the spoken content. An oral presentation differs from a speech in that it usually has visual aids and may involve audience interaction; ideas are both shown and explained . A speech, on the other hand, is a formal verbal discourse addressing an audience, without visual aids and audience participation.

Tips for Types of Oral Presentations

Individual presentation.

  • Know your content. The number one way to have a smooth presentation is to know what you want to say and how you want to say it. Write it down and rehearse it until you feel relaxed and confident and do not have to rely heavily on notes while speaking.
  • Eliminate ‘umms’ and ‘ahhs’ from your oral presentation vocabulary. Speak slowly and clearly and pause when you need to. It is not a contest to see who can race through their presentation the fastest or fit the most content within the time limit. The average person speaks at a rate of 125 words per minute. Therefore, if you are required to speak for 10 minutes, you will need to write and practice 1250 words for speaking. Ensure you time yourself and get it right.
  • Ensure you meet the requirements of the marking criteria, including non-verbal communication skills. Make good eye contact with the audience; watch your posture; don’t fidget.
  • Know the language requirements. Check if you are permitted to use a more casual, conversational tone and first-person pronouns, or do you need to keep a more formal, academic tone?
  • Breathe. You are in control. You’ve got this!

Group Presentation

  • All of the above applies; however, you are working as part of a group. So how should you approach group work?
  • Firstly, if you are not assigned to a group by your lecturer/tutor, choose people based on their availability and accessibility. If you cannot meet face-to-face you may schedule online meetings.
  • Get to know each other. It’s easier to work with friends than strangers.
  • Consider everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Determining strengths and weaknesses will involve a discussion that will often lead to task or role allocations within the group; however, everyone should be carrying an equal level of the workload.
  • Some group members may be more focused on getting the script written, with a different section for each team member to say. Others may be more experienced with the presentation software and skilled in editing and refining PowerPoint slides so they are appropriate for the presentation. Use one visual aid (one set of PowerPoint slides) for the whole group; you may consider using a shared cloud drive so that there is no need to integrate slides later on.
  • Be patient and tolerant with each other’s learning style and personality. Do not judge people in your group based on their personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender, age, or cultural background.
  • Rehearse as a group–more than once. Keep rehearsing until you have seamless transitions between speakers. Ensure you thank the previous speaker and introduce the one following you. If you are rehearsing online, but have to present in-person, try to schedule some face-to-face time that will allow you to physically practice using the technology and classroom space of the campus.

Writing Your Presentation

Approach the oral presentation task just as you would any other assignment. Review the available topics and then do some background reading and research to ensure you can talk about the topic for the appropriate length of time and in an informed manner. Break the question down into manageable parts .

Creating a presentation differs from writing an essay in that the information in the speech must align with the visual aid. Therefore, with each idea, concept, or new information that you write, you need to think about how this might be visually displayed through minimal text and the occasional use of images. Proceed to write your ideas in full, but consider that not all information will end up on a PowerPoint slide. Many guides, such as Marsen (2020), will suggest no more than five points per slide, with each bullet point have no more than six words (for a maximum of 30 words per slide). After all, it is you who are doing the presenting , not the PowerPoint. Your presentation skills are being evaluated, but this evaluation may include only a small percentage for the actual visual aid: check your assessment guidelines.

Using Visual Aids

To keep your audience engaged and help them to remember what you have to say, you may want to use visual aids, such as slides.

When designing slides for your presentation, make sure:

  • any text is brief, grammatically correct and easy to read. Use dot points and space between lines, plus large font size (18-20 point)
  • Resist the temptation to use dark slides with a light-coloured font; it is hard on the eyes
  • if images and graphs are used to support your main points, they should be non-intrusive on the written work

Images and Graphs

  • Your audience will respond better to slides that deliver information quickly – images and graphs are a good way to do this. However, they are not always appropriate or necessary.

When choosing images, it’s important to find images that:

  • support your presentation and aren’t just decorative
  • are high quality, however, using large HD picture files can make the PowerPoint file too large overall for submission via Turnitin
  • you have permission to use (Creative Commons license, royalty-free, own images, or purchased)
  • suggested sites for free-to-use images: Openclipart – Clipping Culture ; Beautiful Free Images & Pictures | Unsplash ; Pxfuel – Royalty free stock photos free download ; When we share, everyone wins – Creative Commons

The specific requirements for your papers may differ. Again, ensure that you read through any assignment requirements carefully and ask your lecturer or tutor if you’re unsure how to meet them.

Using Visual Aids Effectively

Too often, students make an impressive PowerPoint though do not understand how to use it effectively to enhance their presentation.

  • Rehearse with the PowerPoint.
  • Keep the slides synchronized with your presentation; change them at the appropriate time.
  • Refer to the information on the slides. Point out details; comment on images; note facts such as data.
  • Don’t let the PowerPoint just be something happening in the background while you speak.
  • Write notes in your script to indicate when to change slides or which slide number the information applies to.
  • Pace yourself so you are not spending a disproportionate amount of time on slides at the beginning of the presentation and racing through them at the end.
  • Practice, practice, practice.

Nonverbal Communication

It is clear by the name that nonverbal communication includes the ways that we communicate without speaking. You use nonverbal communication everyday–often without thinking about it. Consider meeting a friend on the street: you may say “hello”, but you may also smile, wave, offer your hand to shake, and the like. Here are a few tips that relate specifically to oral presentations.

Being confident and looking confident are two different things. Even if you may be nervous (which is natural), the following will help you look confident and professional:

  • Avoid slouching or leaning – standing up straight instantly gives you an air of confidence, but more importantly it allows you to breathe freely. Remember that breathing well allows you to project your voice, but it also prevents your body from experiencing extra stress.
  • If you have the space, move when appropriate. You can, for example, move to gesture to a more distant visual aid or to get closer to different part of the audience who might be answering a question.
  • If you’re someone who “speaks with their hands”, resist the urge to gesticulate constantly. Use gestures purposefully to highlight, illustrate, motion, or the like.
  • Be animated, but don’t fidget. Ask someone to watch you rehearse and identify if you have any nervous, repetitive habits you may be unaware of, such as ‘finger-combing’ your hair or touching your face.
  • Avoid ‘verbal fidgets’ such as “umm” or “ahh”; silence is ok. If you needs to cough or clear your throat, do so once then take a drink of water.
  • Avoid distractions that you can control. Put your phone on “do not disturb” or turn it off completely.
  • Keep your distance. Don’t hover over front-row audience members.
  • Have a cheerful demeaner. Remember that your audience will mirror your demeanor.
  • Maintain an engaging tone in your voice, by varying tone, pace, and emphasis. Match emotion to concept; slow when concepts might be difficult; stress important words.
  • Don’t read your presentation–present it! Internalize your script so you can speak with confidence and only occasionally refer to your notes if needed.
  • Make eye contact with your audience members so they know you are talking with them, not at them. You’re having a conversation. Watch the link below for some great speaking tips, including eye contact.

Below is a video of some great tips about public speaking from Amy Wolff at TEDx Portland [1]

  • Wolff. A. [The Oregonion]. (2016, April 9). 5 public speaking tips from TEDxPortland speaker coach [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNOXZumCXNM&ab_channel=TheOregonian ↵

Two or more people tied by marriage, blood, adoption, or choice; living together or apart by choice or circumstance; having interaction within family roles; creating and maintaining a common culture; being characterized by economic cooperation; deciding to have or not to have children, either own or adopted; having boundaries; and claiming mutual affection.

Chapter 3: Oral Presentations Copyright © 2023 by Patricia Williamson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Part I: Practice Like a Pro – Tips One through Five of 20 Ways to Rehearse Your Presentation

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  • Part I: Practice Like a…

three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

“One minute of preparation will save you 10 minutes of rambling” – Ed Tate

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when presenting is not rehearsing.

If you’re not prepared at your organization, it could impact your career.

If you’re not prepared with a prospect, you won’t get the business.

Rehearsing gives you confidence.

People buy confidence.

Practice builds confidence and profits.

I’ve created a list of 20 presentation rehearsal techniques to build your confidence. Below you will find the first five tips to put into practice for the coming week.

  • Rehearse in Reverse™ – Divide your presentation into multiple equal parts, five, for example. Assign a number to each section. Have a Rehearsal-Buddy call out a number randomly (“3,” for example). Go to that spot on the stage and deliver that part of your presentation. When done, the Rehearsal-Buddy calls out another random number. Go to that spot. Repeat.This process will help you rapidly retain and internalize your material– you will remember all the content correctly. Distraction-Proof: You will know the material so well; interruptions will not bother you.
  • Practice in front of a camera, not a mirror. Record all your rehearsals and review every video to identify areas to improve. See the article: How to watch your video .
  • Practice the words out loud . The majority of your presentation preparations are done aloud. You must hear what you are saying.
  • Practice in front of a mirror to observe your gestures, facial expressions, and body language .
  • Slide Deck. Rehearse using your slides. Blank the screen when you want the audience to focus on you (e.g., telling a story). To blank the screen, hit the “B” key on the keyboard or the blank button on your remote.

Stay tuned next week for tips 6-10 where I provide more #rehearsal techniques!

If you find yourself practicing the first five tips and have a story you’d like to share, send me a message with the details here and you may be featured in a future article.

See you on stage,

#pitchdeck #highstakespresentations #businesspresentations #storyselling

Author:  Ed Tate

Ed Tate is an award-winning international Keynote speaker, trainer, and author. Worldwide he is known as “The Speaker Who Energizes, Educates, and Entertains.” Using the principles, he teaches, Ed Tate won the “American Idol of Public Speaking” and became the 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking. This award is Toastmasters International’s most prestigious speaking award among its 332,000+ members. In 2008, Ed earned the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association. It is the speaking profession's international measure of professional platform skill. It is an honor bestowed on less than 12% of its members.

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How to Rehearse a Presentation: 5 Simple Steps

by Rob Biesenbach | Presentation/Speech Tips

How to Rehearse a Presentation

In my workshops I share the technique that works for me. Participants have found it to be one of their most valued takeaways, so here is my totally not-patented five-step process for how to rehearse a presentation.

First, though, let me cover a couple of key questions.

Why is Rehearsal Important?

I wish it could go without saying that rehearsal is important, but time and again I’ve seen executives sabotage themselves by not taking the process seriously . They procrastinate, change their minds, and futz with their content all the way up to the last minute, leaving themselves no time to actually practice their delivery.

And it usually shows. People who think they’re better when they “wing it” are kidding themselves . Even professional improvisers — who perform shows where they make up the content on the spot — rehearse!

So in case there’s any question about it, here are three reasons why rehearsal is absolutely vital :

  • The better you know your material, the more poised and confident you will appear (and be).
  • Practicing helps you refine your ideas and improve your content  so you make the biggest impact possible.
  • Rehearsing is the only way to know if you have too much content  — and one of the most common and aggravating mistakes I see presenters make is when they go over their allotted time or blow through the last part of their presentation at warp speed.

How Long Should You Rehearse?

When people ask how much time they should spend rehearsing their presentations, they usually don’t like my answer : “ As much as humanly possible .”

(Which at least sounds more manageable than one expert’s answer: 30 hours !)

The question I suspect they’re really asking is, “What’s the minimum amount of prep time I can get away with ?” They seem to be looking for some secret shortcut or hack.

The truth is, there is no magic bullet . Rehearsing a speech involves time and effort. And though my process is simple, it’s not necessarily easy. It takes work.

How Should You Rehearse?

First, let me tell you how NOT to rehearse a presentation. Rehearsing  does not mean sitting in front of your computer , tabbing through your slides and running through the presentation in your head.

Instead you need to get  on your feet and deliver it in full voice , just as you would in an actual presentation situation. You might find this embarrassing, so shut your office door and put out a “Do Not Disturb” sign.

Set up your computer so the screen is visible as you move about the room (which you would do in an actual presentation) and follow these five steps. Think of the steps as “sets” at the gym — you can perform as many “reps” per set as you have time for.

1. Current Slide + Timer + Next Slide + Notes

Set up your presentation deck in “rehearsal” mode . In PowerPoint, go to Slideshow>Presenter View. In Keynote (for Mac) go to Play>Rehearse Slideshow.

You can customize the display to show a variety of elements on the screen. Start with Current Slide, Next Slide, Notes and Timer. Like so:

How to rehearse a presentation

As you start practicing you will likely have to stop and start and consult your notes . That’s fine. Run through it that way until you’re fairly comfortable.

2. Current Slide + Timer + Next Slide

Next, put your presentation notes on “hide” and start running through it again. Stop as needed to check your notes, but try to get to a point where you no longer need them.

3. Current Slide + Timer

Now this is where it gets tricky. Up to now you’ve had the luxury of seeing your next slide so you know what’s coming next . The reason that’s important is that it helps you transition from one slide to another in a way that’s smooth and fluid, eliminating unnecessary pauses as you advance through the presentation.

So in this step you’re going to hide the “Next Slide” display and start running it again. You will definitely end up pausing and stumbling and even backtracking when you’ve guessed wrong about what comes next. But keep working the material until you’re comfortable.

In each of these three steps you should use the timer to keep you on track . Your early stumble-throughs will probably run longer than your allotted time, but as you go along you’ll want to make sure you come in at or under that mark. And if you can’t, you’ll need to make some cuts.

4. No Slides at All

Here it gets really hard. Close your laptop or exit the presentation and run through it without the benefit of your visuals .

This step is the equivalent of actors rehearsing a play “off book” for the first time. They put down their scripts and perform their role from memory.

But they are aided by being in the familiar environment of the theater — they’re on stage, in costume, interacting with their fellow players. So there’s an abundance of sensory cues to guide them .

In the same way, you’re in your own imaginary but focused environment , shut away in your office, free of outside distraction, conjuring a stage and audience in your mind.

If you can successfully get through your presentation in this mode, congratulations. You’re doing very well. But if you want to take it up a notch, advance to the next step.

5. Leave the Office

Actors know they’ve got their part down when they can leave the rehearsal space and recite their lines (out loud or in their head) while they’re doing other things — commuting on the train, showering, grocery shopping, working out, etc.

It’s harder than it sounds — it’s like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. So get out into the world, do other things, and keep running your presentation .

If you can manage that, you’re in great shape. BUT, there is one big and important difference between actors and presenters …

Don’t Memorize; Internalize

Actors learn their lines verbatim. But if you try to memorize your presentation word-for-word, you’ll have a hard time delivering it in a way that sounds natural and real. So instead, you want to internalize the material.

What that means is, you know it well enough that you’re conversant and fluent . You will phrase things differently in every iteration, but the core ideas you express are consistent over time . You have room to improvise around the margins.

Overwhelmed? Don’t Be

By now you’re probably thinking, “This is a helluva lot of work!” That’s true, it is.

But the answer to the question of how much effort you should put into practicing your presentation is simply this:  “How important is the presentation?”

Is it a talk that can make or break your year or career? Like an opportunity to impress your organization’s leaders or to establish your reputation among industry peers or to allay people’s concerns about big changes coming their way?

Then I would recommend  going all out . Maybe even hitting that 30-hour benchmark.

For lesser occasions, you can do fewer “reps” in each of the sets above.

At minimum, though, you should practice your open and close as much as you possibly can . The first and last impressions you make on your audience are the most important, so you want to come on and and go out strong .

The Effort You Devote to Rehearsal is Up to You

The amount of effort you put into rehearsing your presentation is obviously your choice. What do your ideas deserve? What does your audience deserve? What do your career and reputation deserve?

Those, ultimately, are the questions you need to answer.

[ Image via Kym McLeod ]

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Presentation Skills 2: Rehearsal

three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

We see no end of people who spend hours pouring over their bullet points but fail to rehearse properly for the presentation.

The old adage is as true now as it has always been.

“If you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail”

Rehearse your presentation and it will get better.

Sorry to sound like a bit of an old nag. It’s obvious – rehearsing – isn’t it? But it’s also a bit of a drag and one that is easy to forget. It is probably the most common mistake of all presentations that I have seen.

You wouldn’t dream of going to see a Shakespeare play at the RSC only to find that they hadn’t properly learnt the script. You wouldn’t dream of going to the opera to hear the band play out of time because they hadn’t got round to rehearsing properly. Yet in presentations and in speeches we see this happening all the time.

three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

The impact of inadequate rehearsal on the audience

Rehearsing could make the difference between a good and an average presentation.

1. Plan to rehearse your presentation out loud at least 4 times.

We suggest that you should rehearse at least four times, and if you can get word perfect so much the better. I know that you haven’t got the time, but we have seen so many presentations that have been let down due to a lack of rehearsal.

Make sure that one of your rehearsals is in front of a really scary audience – f amily, friends, partners, colleagues; children . They will tell you quite plainly where you are going wrong – as well as providing you with the support that you need.

2. Rehearse against the clock

If you have to give a presentation in a short period of time then try to practice your presentation against the clock. This is particularly true with something like the five minute job presentation. You can add in parts from the script or take them out to fit the time. Allow extra time in your presentation for questions and watch out for nerves – this could mean that you talk faster on the day.

In the actual presentation you could take in a clock or take off your wrist watch and put it on the podium. This way you can see how the timings can develop.

3. Take a leaf out of Winston Churchill’s book – memorize your script.

He is widely attributed as being one of the great speakers. It took him six weeks to prepare his Maiden Speech in the House of Commons and he learnt it word perfect.

4. Video or tape record yourself

three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

A very simple trick that could help you with your performance is to video or tape record yourself. This will give you some immediate feedback and will enable you to fine tune your performance.

Videoing a rehearsal is the staple of many presentation training companies – so why not save time and money and do it yourself?

Does it work? – Just read this bit of feedback from someone who got a new job using these techniques

“Then I practised, I think this is the key. I practised in front of my husband, my brother in law, my 12 year old daughter. Then my 4 year old son on the day, he wasn’t impressed, he just wanted me to put the telly on.

I blew their socks off!! he he

Definitely could not have done it without your help”

Rehearse and you will get better.

Click on this link below to take you to the third of the essentials.

>> Lesson 3. The rule of three >>

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three types of rehearsals for oral presentation

Very well said. I have my own experience. Whenever I rehearse I speak perfectly but whenever I don’t have the time, I measerbly failed.

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  1. Rehearsing Your Presentation

    There are 4 general types of delivery: impromptu, extemporaneous, the use of a manuscript, and memorized. Impromptu Speaking Impromptu speaking is the presentation of a short message without advance preparation. You have probably done impromptu speaking many times in informal, conversational settings.

  2. How to Rehearse for an Important Presentation

    Post Save Summary. If you want to deliver a spellbinding presentation, rehearse far more than you've done in the past. But you don't want to sound too rehearsed, so you'll need to balance...

  3. Ways to Rehearse Your Speech for an Effective Presentation

    1. Practice in front of a mirror. In addition to hearing you speak, it is also important to see how others will see you. If you are going to use gestures during your speech, this is the time when you will notice how they will look at an audience. You may find that you need to make adjustments.

  4. How to deliver an oral presentation

    Abstract Delivering an oral presentation in conferences and meetings can seem daunting. However, if delivered effectively, it can be an invaluable opportunity to showcase your work in front of peers as well as receive feedback on your project.

  5. Rehearsing Your Speech

    Speak in a conversational style. If your rehearsal would disturb roommates or family members, speak softly but do rehearse out loud. Rehearse all the parts of your speech. Rehearse with your graphics and coordinate them to your talk. Practice your nonverbal communication as well as the words you speak.

  6. Your Path to Perfect: Guide to Rehearsing a Presentation

    Tips for Effective Presentation Practice. 1. Don't Memorize Your Speech. My first rule of thumb is not to be tempted to memorize your presentation word for word. Audiences can tell when a speaker has memorized their presentation. It's obvious because there is a flavour of performance art—the delivery is a bit disassociated from the words.

  7. 13 Tips For Rehearsing A Presentation

    master body language will be able to complete on time How Long Should You Practice for a Presentation? The presenter can practice for 1-hour keeping in mind all the other factors such as rough outline, slides and time. The presenter must time everything accordingly and then practice. She/he can also calculate and rehearse.

  8. 3 Speech rehearsal secrets to help you nail your next presentation

    Sep 16 Written By Anthony Sanni Have you ever drawn a blank in the middle of a presentation? You stand there like a goldfish in a staring contest with nothing but painful silence between your ears. Ouch! Technique in speaking goes beyond formulating and crafting a good speech—memory and strong delivery is where it all comes together.

  9. PDF Oral Presentations

    Oral presentations typically involve three important steps: 1) planning, 2) practicing, and 3) presenting. Oral presentations require a good deal of planning. Scholars estimate that approximately 50% of all mistakes in an oral presentation actually occur in the planning stage (or rather, lack of a planning stage).

  10. Rehearse Your PowerPoint Presentation

    2. Practice: Rehearsing with your slideshow Rehearsal is essential to giving an effective presentation. Rehearsing increases your confidence, ensures you are familiar with your material and allows you to polish your presentation skills. It is important to not only practice delivering your talk, but to practice using your visual aids.

  11. 5 Key Steps to Rehearsing a Presentation Like the Best TED Speakers

    Public Speaking 5 Key Steps to Rehearsing a Presentation Like the Best TED Speakers The TED conference's recommendation to rehearse repeatedly is a winning strategy for any high-stakes...

  12. Rehearsing the Presentation

    You want your message to be heard, so practice—out loud—clearly articulating your thoughts. Every time you convey the ideas in your speech out loud to yourself, to your teacher, or to your peers, you are (in a way) rehearsing. You are building clarity and familiarity with your thoughts by speaking them.

  13. How to prepare and deliver an effective oral presentation

    Delivery. It is important to dress appropriately, stand up straight, and project your voice towards the back of the room. Practise using a microphone, or any other presentation aids, in advance. If you don't have your own presenting style, think of the style of inspirational scientific speakers you have seen and imitate it.

  14. Chapter 3: Oral Presentations

    An oral presentation differs from a speech in that it usually has visual aids and may involve audience interaction; ideas are both shown and explained. A speech, on the other hand, is a formal verbal discourse addressing an audience, without visual aids and audience participation. Tips for Types of Oral Presentations Individual Presentation.

  15. Six of the best rehearsal tips for your presentation

    Good rehearsal techniques can make all the difference between presentation heaven and convention suspension. Here we outline some of the most effective ways to practise and prepare for your big show… Venue Re-creation. In an ideal world, every presentation would be preceded by a comprehensive "test flight" at its designated venue.

  16. Part I: Practice Like a Pro

    Rehearse in Reverse™ - Divide your presentation into multiple equal parts, five, for example. Assign a number to each section. Have a Rehearsal-Buddy call out a number randomly ("3," for example). Go to that spot on the stage and deliver that part of your presentation. When done, the Rehearsal-Buddy calls out another random number. Go ...

  17. How to Rehearse a Presentation: 5 Simple Steps

    1. Current Slide + Timer + Next Slide + Notes. Set up your presentation deck in "rehearsal" mode. In PowerPoint, go to Slideshow>Presenter View. In Keynote (for Mac) go to Play>Rehearse Slideshow. You can customize the display to show a variety of elements on the screen. Start with Current Slide, Next Slide, Notes and Timer.

  18. 18.5: Delivering Your Presentation as One

    The presentation preparation primarily focuses on your group's ability to develop a clear plan and execution of delivery. A delivery plan includes essential elements such as (1) purpose, (2) oral content, (3) dress, (4) room, (5) visuals, (6) delivery, and (7) rehearsal to ensure that the group presentation is both captivating and useful to ...

  19. Sergeant's course

    Deepening the understanding of leaders' decision-making, philosophy, and priorities; Communicating information; Creating connections within and without a unit. Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like No matter the purpose, there are some characteristics common to all effective writing, it: ____________.

  20. Presentation Skills 2: Rehearsal

    1. Plan to rehearse your presentation out loud at least 4 times. We suggest that you should rehearse at least four times, and if you can get word perfect so much the better. I know that you haven't got the time, but we have seen so many presentations that have been let down due to a lack of rehearsal. Make sure that one of your rehearsals is ...

  21. 14: Oral Presentations

    Visuals for Oral Presentations. There are various types of presentation formats you can use: Presentation software slides: Projecting images ("slides") using software such as PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides, and Prezi, to name a few. One common problem with the construction of these slides is cramming too much information on individual slides.

  22. 3.5: Rehearsing Your Presentation

    Myth #2: Practice makes perfect. It is possible to practice incorrectly, so in that case, practice will make permanent, not perfect. There is a right way and a wrong way to practice a speech, musical instrument, or sport. Myth #3: Public speaking is just reading what you wrote or reading and talking at the same time.

  23. 7 Key Steps to Rehearse for a Stunning Presentation

    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.