So you’ve been doing your presentation routine for a while now. You’ve gotten used to your regular rotation of topics and can anticipate what the audience will be like for each one. Your stomach is officially butterfly free.
Then it happens. For one reason or another, you are tasked with presenting a new topic, in a new style, with a new kind of audience. You don’t know where to begin, and unfortunately, those pesky butterflies managed to find their way back into your stomach.
Times like these are when it’s important to remember the value of doing a “dress rehearsal” for your presentation. After you have finished a rough draft of your material, round up a few friends or co-workers (the closer they are to your target audience, the better). Deliver your presentation to them as if you were performing the real deal for your clients or students. Take note of key points such as overly difficult tasks, audience engagement, and perhaps most importantly, timing. This is an especially good opportunity to learn what questions might come up during the Q&A portion of your presentation.
In addition to your own observations, make sure to elicit truly candid feedback from the participants. sugar-coated comments won’t help you or your future audience.
After doing the above, integrate what you learned into the final draft of your presentation, and deliver it with confidence. You will soon notice that thanks to the dress rehearsal, your first attempt at presenting new material is now technically your second attempt, and those pesky butterflies are back in the wild where they belong.