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Great presentation requires practice

I’ve been doing a lot of presentations lately and it’s not unusual for someone to come up to me afterwards and tell me that they just couldn’t possibly give such a presentation, not through lack of ideas but because of public speaking nerves.  I’ll tell you what I always tell them.  There are a few people born to do great presentations, but I’m not one of them, and you may not be either.  For most of us it just takes planning and practice—and lots of rehearsing.  Rehearse your presentation over and over, leaving nothing to chance.  You need to know your message so well that you never have to hesitate or worry about what’s coming next.  In fact, you should spend even more time practicing your talk than preparing it! 

And then once you do your presentation, do another one.  Only by addressing audiences again and again can you change from someone secretly wishing you were finished and back safely ensconced in your seat to someone communicating (and giving!) enjoyment.  It’s exactly like learning a foreign language, or taking up a new sport.  An accomplished tennis player doesn’t pick up his racket once a year, hoping for the best, but works hard at the game on a consistent basis.  As the saying goes, “the more you practice, the luckier you get!”

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