Field-tested, spaced repetition, presentation practice
“You presentation coaching guys give lots ideas on how to improve my presentations but no one has given me an efficient, usable practice schedule leading up to the live presentation day.” Advertising Agency MD.
The above comment was made to me, with a tinge of frustration, during a workshop I led last year.
Below is the spaced-repetition practice template I suggested to the MD prior to an upcoming important presentation he had to deliver.
Step One: Audio record your verbatim delivery of the opening 90 seconds of the presentation.
Step Two: Audio record yourself while you list the major subsection headings and key points for each subsection in bullet point form.*
Step Three: Audio record your verbatim delivery of the closing 90 seconds.
Step Four: Listen to the Opening, Middle and Closing at four hour intervals in the four days leading up to the delivery day. (Do this with your mobile phone with your earbuds in while you’re doing other activities like driving, or taking a walk, or having lunch. (With you’re listening you’ll probably come up with better word choices, phrasing, or sequence of points. When this happens re-record the audio with the changes and continue with the spaced listening.
Step Five: On the day before the live presentation have a full dress rehearsal spoken delivery with a loving critic** audience.
Let me elaborate on some of the above points:
– Audio-recording the Opening delivery, Middle bullet points and Closing delivery of a presentation and then listening to the audio recording at spaced intervals while doing other activities, has helped my clients efficiently prepare for presentations (In contrast to speaking aloud practice of the entire presentation, over and over again).
– In effect, what you’re doing with the spaced repetition listening is creating an ‘audio file’ in your brain that you can call on during the live presentation.
– The reason for delivering the Opening and Closing is that my field research reveals that 80% of what an audience will remember is the Opening and Closing. So it’s good to really nail these sections.
– The day before rehearsal will allow you to reap the benefit of all your spaced repetition listening and put the audio into the spoken form.
** The loving critic term comes from John Gardner, a leadership guru. Here is Gardner’s entire quotation: “Pity the leader caught between unloving critics and uncritical lovers” (In other words we should seek out ‘loving critics’ to give us feedback).
Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post: Try out the above 5 step template for your next ‘safe’ situation presentation and reflect on its effectiveness. I’d love to hear your feedback on using the practice template.