Making Better Presentations–Practice

This is part of a series of tips for speakers on how to make your presentations better.

There’s one thing that makes a big difference for many speakers.


Practice makes perfect, but more importantly, practice develops familiarity. Everyone gets a little nervous on stage, everyone struggled to memorize their entire talk. The best presenters learn to minimize the amount of thinking they need to do on stage, and build a smooth flow of topics.

It’s important for you to practice your talks so that you become comfortable with the flow and ordering of your slides. I have typically done the following when I build a new presentation

  • Practice sections as I create them – Actually run through the words in my head.
  • Practice the entire talk of slides out loud – I may do this a few times in my office.
  • Record myself giving the talk and watch for the flow – I rarely do this anymore, but I have done it quite a few times when I was beginning speaking. Even now I’ll see recordings of myself at times and see things I want to improve or remove in my style.
  • Run through the talk the night before, often in my head, quickly, but covering each slide and demo.

Above all, practice with your demos and code. Learn to move around the system easily and smoothly. Being able to select icons, hit shortcuts, select code, etc. makes your presentations smoother, but it’s also handy in your work. Having these tools quickly move in and out of your way make you a more efficient worker.

The big things I’d tell people to understand is how to switch to and from Powerpoint. Note that you don’t need to stop the presentation to switch. ALT+Tab to your other application and ALT+TAB back to Powerpoint. The presentation itself will be an app separate from Powerpoint. It will take you 30 seconds to figure it out, but practice.

Practice, practice, practice.

Remember, amateurs practice until they get it right. Professionals practice until they don’t get it wrong.

About way0utwest

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2 Responses to Making Better Presentations–Practice

  1. Chris Yates says:

    These types of posts are ones that really resonate with me due to my sports background. Countless hours go into practice and it has carried over into my SQL work habits. I guess that is why I’m up late practicing now for a talk tomorrow 🙂 Thanks for sharing this and reinforcing what I’m doing.


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