While I was working out at the track the other day, football practice was in session on the field. I had the perfect vantage point to watch these young men run drill after drill, over and over, with constant adjustments from the coaches.
Here are some tips for you on practicing your presentation, based on the effort I witnessed on the field.
1. Practice right
What's the point of practicing if you're practicing the same mistakes over and over? Get some feedback, either through videotape, a trusted friend, or a coach, and work on practicing your presentations without ingraining your bad habits.
2. Practice as though you're in the game
These young men were running passing drills with the speed, focus and intensity you would see in a game. The quarterbacks blocked imaginary defenders (or sometimes the coach), ran their pattern and passed to the receivers, who on their side of the field were running their butts off to make it to the ball.
When you practice your presentation, practice as though you're in front of the audience. Try out your humor; speak with the emotion and passion you will demonstrate "in real life." When you practice it, it becomes natural and comfortable for you, and the audience can feel your enthusiasm.
3. Practice the details
The football drills were detailed and the players practiced specific patterns. The coach would stop them to point out body position, angles, footwork or passing techniques. Every detail and every second matters in sports, and in presenting.
Practice making eye contact. Practice using your props and flip charts. Practice using your remote device if using slides. Practice using your timer. If you'll be recording yourself, practice with the microphone and recorder so they won't distract you on the day. Pay attention to the details. Details count.
If these guys play like they practice, they've got nothing to worry about -- and neither will you!