Listen to any great presentation and be impressed. Any great presentation will have been given more than once. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech was given many times before it became a classic. Those TED talks that we all admire will have been practiced and honed over many weeks if not months. Each time the speaker gives a talk they will be learning from it, becoming more familiar with it, and changing it slightly, for the better.
Some people say that they don’t like to over-practice; they get bored with it. That’s not possible. What they’re speaking about is just becoming more familiar with it. And that’s great, because it means they can focus on the audience, not just on ‘what comes next’ in the talk. And it’s the audience that’s important; how they’re feeling and reacting, because that’s why you’re giving the talk: to move the audience in some way.
By the way, if the speaker really is bored with the talk then it’s time for them to find something else to speak about, or to look at it in a different way; to re-generate their interest in the topic.
Now you’ve finished your presentation. Now’s the time to capture your thoughts about what went well, and what you’d like to do differently next time. Find a way of capturing those thoughts because you will forget if you just leave it to your memory. And immediately afterwards is a great time to reflect. As is the next day!
Ask for feedback from people who were there. Not just at the time, but a day or so later. Be open to their ideas and suggestions. Accept the compliments, graciously; and listen and understand the ‘do differently’. Don’t justify why you did such and such. That’s not important and it will stop people from telling you what they really think. But remember it’s only their thoughts; it’s only their view. It’s just feedback; you don’t have to change anything you don’t want to.
Then, when you’re familiar with the talk you can begin to see how you can really bring it alive. What new stories or examples could you bring in to make your points even more strongly. Could you start in a different place for more impact? Maybe don’t make wholesale changes unless you’re feeling very confident, but just small changes which will make the difference.
My own experience from being completely tongue-tied in front of my Board of Directors when I was in my 20s and nearly losing my job because of that, to training thousands of people to speak well in public, is testament to learning and growing from each experience. If I can do it, so can you!