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The best way to prepare – talk to yourself

Tags: Be interesting | Presentations | Meetings | Impact

24th October

There are some comms that must go well – the presentation to the Board; the big sales pitch; and so on.

And, because they must go well, people tend to prepare for them.

So, lots of time creating beautiful slides, thinking how best to deliver them, and so on.

But there’s an important part of your prep that often gets missed…

       Talking out loud

After all, when you deliver your communication, you’re going to be talking out loud. So, it’s important to talk out loud when you practise it.

And I don’t mean just doing one full run-through.

Because – let’s face it – you won’t get to do a full run-through on the day. Your audience will interrupt you with their challenges and questions.

So, here’s what I practise – by talking out loud – every time:

  • The start. Make a great first impression, and they tend to stay impressed. Plus, starting well is great for your confidence. So practise your opening 1-2 sentences out loud 15-20 times – until you’ve nailed it
  • The end. This is where you’ll ask them for something – their business, their sponsorship, some money. So practise out loud how you’ll ask. Remember, if you don’t ask for anything, you won’t get anything. And if you ask badly, you still won’t get anything. So, practise it!
  • Answers to the ‘dreads’. There’ll be some questions you’re dreading them asking – about price, having no time, it not being a priority, and the like. So find a friend, and role-play out loud how you’ll answer them
  • The questions you’ll ask. To make your communication interactive, you’ll have to ask them some questions. I have a rule of at least one question per slide. So identify the best ones to ask. Then practise asking them out loud, until they feel natural
  • Tricky bits. There’s always a tricky bit – the uncomfortable message, the complex point – things like that. So practise these out loud a few times, until they feel right

When I was young, I was taught that talking to yourself was a sign of madness.

But now, if I don’t talk to myself in my prep, it means the first time I hear the words come out of my mouth is when my audience hears it too!

And if that doesn’t make someone mad with worry, I don’t know what will.

Action Point

For your next communication, practise the key bits out loud. That way, you’ll sound much more natural and impressive when your audience is there later.

In fact, practising is so important, that one of the videos in my online club focuses on how to do it. It’s one of my Presentation Skills videos. Here’s another one – where I explain the four elements of a successful presentation, and how to nail each one…

Andy's speaking at the UK's best sales conference next month. Other speakers include Sir Clive Woodward and Allan Pease. Fancy coming along?