Practice makes perfect

2 October, 2007

Just found this excellent piece on preparing for presentations by Rowan Manahan. I particularly liked the following point:

“The most impressive people I have worked with, the ones who make it look so effortless and so off the cuff, are always the ones who have put in the hours.”

From experience I know that to be true. I usually put in a lot of prep for presentations, often with my 5-month old daughter as audience (this isn’t as daft as it may sound – if she smiles and laughs I know my tone of voice, expressions and gestures are sufficiently lively for an audience – if she starts looking elsewhere I know I need to put more effort into it!), but on those rare occasions when I’m not so well prepared the end result is usually pretty poor, as I tend to rush it a bit.

Thorough preparation doesn’t mean learning a script off by heart – do that and your talk will come over a bit soulless – it just means knowing your topic well, knowing what slide comes next, what’s on it, and what you’re going to say about it (including any good stories or anecdotes), and what the time is.

Unprepared speakers can always be identified by the amount of time they spend looking at their own slides, and by the amount of words and bulletpoints thereon. A speaker without bulletpoints, who gives an engaging talk without constantly looking at the screen and appears to be delivering their talk off the cuff, is someone who has spent hours preparing!

One Response to “Practice makes perfect”

  1. Xuan Thao Says:

    I think your daughter is a patient audience 😀

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