All you need to know aboutPractice in public speaking

Being Prepared Mentally for a Presentation

Being Prepared Mentally for a Presentation

Getting ready for a workshop, training or presentation is much more than getting your slides done. The mental part of preparing matters a lot.


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Why you shouldn’t be rehearsing in front of a mirror

It’s common advice given to a lot of speakers: practice in front of a mirror. So they can see how they ‘perform’ and improve their body language. It’s a very logical way of thinking. In fact, it’s in the advice of many books and courses. Intended to make you look at yourself in real time and make instant adjustments. But is this the right way of thinking?

I believe it is a completely wrong approach. It can even lead to the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish.

Why do people use a mirror?

“But wait, what are you saying? Are you saying that the advice others are giving is false?” Well, as with many things, my answer will be: that depends. It depends on how you ‘read’ the advice.

Let’s look at some of the reasoning behind the tip that you should practice in front of a mirror.

“It helps you see what you look like”

This is true, of course, you can see yourself. As I point out below though, it’s not your real self. But the essence of the advice here is good: seeing yourself will make that you can improve yourself. The question is if that has to be a mirror… But I’ll get back to that.

“It helps with practicing eye contact”

Some say that a mirror will help you look at your audience instead of at your notes. Where I agree that you shouldn’t look at your notes, I doubt that the mirror will have that effect. Eye contact is important. So you have to train yourself to look at different people.

I think this advice comes from the understanding that you need to practice without notes. But there are many better ways of doing that.

Why is practicing in front of the mirror wrong?

So why do I advice against it? There are several reasons you shouldn’t do this.

1. It’s not real!

A frog rehearsing in front of a mirror

Even though you see yourself in the mirror, and the reflection is real, this is not reality. Practicing in front of the mirror doesn’t reflect what happens in real life. Because for one, in real life, you don’t see yourself. If you want to practice, you want to get as close as possible to the actual speaking experience. When you see a reflection of yourself, you will act on it right away. Change the way you look. But that is how you look in the mirror, not on stage.

You will not even see how you act on stage because you are focusing on your reflection. What you see is not what you get. This might also mean that you change things that don’t need changing!

2. It’s a habit you need to change, not a moment

When you look in the mirror, and you see something wrong, you will change it. But then the change has happened and you don’t think about it anymore. Where in fact, it’s a habit. So you need to address it over and over. Looking in the mirror fools you into thinking you ‘fixed’ your body language.

3. The mirror will make you focus on gesture, not story

When you practice in front of the mirror, you are focusing on how your movement and gestures. You will see every movement that goes wrong. You will see every little thing. Your focus will be on your smallest facial expressions and gestures. This is distracting. Which then leads to too much emphasis on those little things and you will lose the focus on your story.

You want to focus on your story, not your gestures.

4. Your mirror image might make you nervous

Looking at yourself in the mirror when practicing might actually make you nervous. When you look at yourself, you emphasize what goes wrong. You are much more aware of what goes wrong. Therefore increasing the likely hood of it actually going wrong.

If you see things going wrong you will start thinking about these things more and more. And that will make you nervous.

What to do?

Is it always wrong to practice in front of the mirror? I would say yes in most cases. But, like with everything, there are exceptions. If you practice early enough, it will most likely not make you nervous. And you can do that, but only to practice certain gestures. To see if certain gestures work or not. Otherwise, I would advise against it.

But if it’s something that works for you, do it!

There are two other things you can do that will give you a much better insight into how you are presenting yourself:

Practice in front of an audience.

Find colleagues or other people to see you talk. They can give you feedback as well. Remember to ask them for specific feedback on your body language and not on your story.

Record yourself

Grab a video camera (or your phone) and record yourself. Position the camera so that it has a broad view of how you move (which show your full body). Watch the recording, write down the two or three biggest things you want to change, and do another practice run.

Just be careful rehearsing in front of the mirror. It might not have the outcome you were hoping for!


Marcus Tandler about handling anxiety, rehearsing, Slidestorms and more!

At The Inbounder in Madrid, Bas van den Beld spoke to Marcus Tandler about his experiences as a speaker and any tips he has for other (new) speakers).

We discussed several topics: from Google to Slidestorms (301 slides in 30 minutes!), rehearsing, anxiety, tactics and much more!

Here’s the full video. See a breakdown of the video below!

How Marcus didn’t believe Google would make it big

When Marcus Tandler started speaking in public in 1999, he wasn’t so sure Google would make it. In fact, he didn’t believe it at all when a student in his workshop told him.

Listen to Marcus anecdote about one of his first talks ever:

Why Marcus uses 301 slides for 30 minutes on stage

In the interview we had with Marcus Tandler, we asked him why he has this method of presenting. His answer is both surprising as obvious.

Listen to Marcus talk about the number of slides:

With Slidestorms you have to be sure

If you use Slidestorms like Marcus does you need to be sure of what you say. That means a lot of rehearsal.

Listen to the specific item here:

How long it takes to prepare for a Slidestorm

When Marcus uses a Slidestorm as a presentation format, he needs to prepare. How much? He’ll tell you in this video!

Listen to the specific item here:

Marcus misses his own talks and uses a smiley face!

When Marcus goes on stage, he is nervous. He tries to make himself calm and uses a smiley for that. If it works? He’ll tell you in this video!

Listen to the specific item here:

Prepare your talk as if it’s a Hollywood script

When preparing for a talk, structuring a talk in the right way is important. You need to bring your audience with you.

When Marcus prepares a presentation, he looks at it as if it’s a movie script. In this video, he explains more.

Listen to the full item here:

How your grandma can help you become a great speaker

How barcamps, smaller conferences, your wife or your grandma can help you become a great speaker? They give you experience. As a speaker starting out, you should go to the smaller events and just do it. Get on stage and talk!

And when practicing, practice in front of your wife, your mom or your grandma. Because as Marcus says, if they understand, you do fine!

Listen to the full item here:

About Marcus Tandler:

Marcus calls himself a “search geek and absolutely in love with SEO”. He is known within the search industry by the Twitter handle “Mediadonis”. Many know him as a great speaker and organiser of SEOktoberfest.

Marcus is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at Ryte.com – a SaaS Tech-StartUp with the mission to help webmasters make better websites.

More about Marcus:

His personal website
Facebook
YouTube
Linkedin
Twitter: @mediadonis


How to get people to come up to you after your talk

There are speakers who draw great crowds. Not only during their session, but after as well. People come up to them, ask them questions, take pictures and often enough, become clients.

How do they do that? Of course, with a good presentation. But there is a way to get that attention as well. Here’s how…

Full Transcript:

Hey! How are you doing? Sometimes, when you’re preparing for a presentation, you will find that you have too much material. You just can’t put it all into your presentation and that
sometimes… It sucks, it’s not nice… But it might be something that you can use for your own benefit. Let me tell you why.

Sometimes you want people to come up to you after your talk. You want them to get engaged with you during the breaks. Now, the extra material that you can’t put into your presentation, might actually be something that can help you trigger to get people to come up to you after your talk.

Imagine that at the end of your talk you are almost done and you explain to the audience that you may have a lot more stories about a certain topic. You go like “oh I wish I could tell this now but we don’t have the time for that. But you know what, if you really want to hear the story come up to me afterward and I’ll tell you the story.”

Chances are people will come up to you to hear that last bit, that last story that you couldn’t tell in your presentation. So don’t just rule out the extra information the extra stuff that you have prepared. Use it for your own benefit. Use it after your talk.


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