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Lucia deLisa

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

This is the part two of the guest post by Susan Taylor of Imagine Productions. Here is part 1.

The first method to practice your nonprofit presentation is to stand in front of a mirror and speak.

This can be freaky. There you are, no doubt looking uncomfortable, feeling silly. But force yourself to carry on. Watch for any odd facial expressions or body twitches or hitches. If you jingle the coins in your pocket, you will drive you audience nuts after a while. If you fuss with your hair, your audience will notice and be distracted. If these are ingrained behaviors, it will take a while to stop doing them. Watch your posture, too. Stand up straight, keep your body open to the audience. If you want to move around that’s fine, but pacing like a caged lion will distract and make it hard for your audience to look at you and the slides. Remember that your slides will mostly likely be behind you — make certain that you can see what is in front of you audience without having to turn your back on them. And of course, you’d never read your slides, would you?

The next method to practice your presentation is to listen for um, ahs, and those catch phrases you toss in when the going gets tough – such as okay or like or you know. As you practice, don’t stop if something goes wrong. Try to correct the situation on the fly, and if you can’t, make a plan for what you’ll do to get through such moments without a break down. You don’t to involve your audience in your panic. So make a plan. Also, remember that you don’t need to be perfect – just real, authentic, and human.

Another practice option is to record yourself on video or audio. This maybe painful but it will be incredibly instructive. You will learn more watching the playback of a video recording than you will in hours of practicing in a mirror.

But, the ultimate and very best way to practice is before a listener. Explain your expectations to your listener and pick him or her with care. If you can find an experienced speaker to help, great. Explain that you don’t want to be ripped to shreds. The listener’s job is to help with delivery and to make a note of your golden moments. His job is to help improve what works and to point out, kindly, what doesn’t.

The first thing your listener will likely notice is the speed of your delivery. Most people have a tendency to speak too fast when they present – a function of fear, adrenalin and passion for the topic. For heaven’s sake don’t lose your passion, but use it to bring life, not breakneck speed, to your talk. Remember most of your audience wants to learn from you. Some are taking physical notes, others are taking mental notes. They are not going to be able to keep up with you if you rattle on while they are digesting and thinking about the information you’ve given them. Your audience is not going to resent it if you pause before moving to a new topic or during a complex explanation. A moment of silence never hurt anyone. A good listener will be able to tell you if they can keep up with you and if they ask that you slow down, do it.

But the most important thing that a listener can do for you is to catch your golden words. A good listener will jot down the great phrases or adjectives that you speak that really made your message sing. A pause in the right place; a special word, a movement, a smile: this is stuff you need to know. Put this information in your presenter notes — you do use presenter notes don’t you? More on this failsafe device next time.

I’ll be leading a free webinar on Feb 20th 2013 at 10am PST, 1pm EST on the fine art of preparing a presentation.

Please join me to learn more about this critical phase of RockStar Presentations for Non-Profit Leaders.

Susan Taylor is a founding partner of Imagine Productions, a digital communication company in Portland, Oregon. After a long career in public television and radio in front of and behind the mic, she joined forces with Lucia DeLisa, an award-winning radio producer and editor, to create a company to help companies tell their stories in video and interactive formats. Imagine Productions was among the first to experiment with digital video in Portland Oregon and have continued to pioneer the use of new media. They have developed presentations, e-learning courses and videos for a number of Oregon companies including Freightliner, Adidas, Parr Lumber, Educational Productions and ITI.