This tip is about as obvious as they come. But practicing (we can say “rehearsing” if we want to sound a little more theatrical) is one of the most neglected elements of developing a presentation. By the time people organize their ideas, develop a script and put together their visual aids they’ve often run out of time for preparation. Or they just want to get through the talk once and never think about it again. But a little bit of practice can go a long way toward improving your talks.
No matter how good (or bad) of a presenter you think you are, your presentations will benefit from practicing them. And practicing can help you with several aspects of your talks besides simply helping you remember what you want to say. Running through your presentation at least once before you deliver it to your “real” audience can help you work out kinks in the structure of your talk– where you’ve left something out, where you’re repeating yourself, where you stay on one point too long or where you need a transition between ideas. If you’re practicing your presentation and find something awkward or keep losing your way, chances are that your audience would have the same problem.
Practicing can also help you figure out where you need to add an image, introduce a group activity or insert a joke to mix things up a little bit. Most importantly, practicing can help you overcome fear of presenting. Practice enough and you shouldn’t have to worry about forgetting what you have to say. It may seem uncomfortable, or even silly, to give a presentation to an empty room or a few sympathetic people pretending to be your audience, but rehearsing will ultimately make you much more comfortable in the long run.
Invest a little practice time for the sake of your presentation, your audience, and yourself.