Practising Your Presentation: Why Don’t You Do It Properly?

Practising your presentation
Practising your presentation

I’ve learned over my years of experience both as a speaker and a Classical pianist, that fear about an upcoming talk – or concert – is simply telling me to prepare: to get ready for the event. To give you an example:

 when I was much younger and more foolish, I was booked to give a presentation on the ‘art of performing in business’ to a management team. I was using PowerPoint for the first time, and turned up to try a foreign laptop  in the hour before the actual presentation… I wasn’t even familiar with using a laptop! I became more and more worried during the few days prior to the event, but ignored the warning signs to prepare: I thought I could do it. On the day, I got through it without a visible hitch, but my stress levels were sky high, and I’m sure my connection with the audience was lower than it could have been.

I just thought I’d be ok without going that extra distance to be secure.

Ever sounded like you? Or does fear paralyse you into not preparing even though you don’t think you’ll be ok?

So why don’t you practise, even when you know it’s a good idea? People usually come up with these reasons, or a variation of:

  • it’s a pain to do
  • there’s not enough time to practise properly, so I won’t do it at all
  • other people don’t practise either, and seem to get away with it

I believe that there can be an underlying element too, that I know I used not to admit to myself: practising is confronting. It forces you to face the reality of where you sit with your material, how well you know it, or indeed believe in it: and your willingness to knuckle down and focus in order to get the job done.

If you’d like to begin turning this around, click here for useful tips on how to practise most effectively. Good luck!

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Comments (2)

  • Anton Ady Reply

    I read your practical tips Sara and whilst I agree, and hence why I am coming to your workshops for musicians, is depsite having memorised my performance for piano exams or my powerpoint presentation at work, I seem to go blank, less so at work because I can fudge some of the delivery whereas a music exam has to be precise. Maybe my idea of having memorised the material is deficient or is it something more causing this memory failure. At these times the keyboard or notes from what I am presenting seem in disarray to me.

    at 12:53 am
    • Sarah Denholm Reply

      Hi Anton, thanks for your comments. And you’re right – you do of course have to be precise with music. Though I don’t recommend memorizing a talk (except perhaps the start), memorizing a piece of music can be very helpful to get you to a deep level of knowing the notes.

      However, it sounds like your ‘blanking’ is caused by heightened levels of anxiety and adrenalin – and we’re going to cover this thoroughly in the upcoming workshop.


      at 8:09 pm

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