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Lesson 13. Banish Those Butterflies > Think of Butterflies as Adrenaline - Pg. 54

Banish Those Butterflies 54 First, figure out how many hours or days you need for each step. Many speakers discover that they should have started their preparation much sooner, and they may already be short on time. And remember to be generous in case some unforeseen emergencies arise. For example, you may need to take a business trip that will cut into your preparation time. Then work backward from the day of the presentation to the date where you should begin working on it. Put each step on the schedule in the order in which it should be done. Caution Use a schedule and stay on it.Try to schedule a short block of time every day to prepare your presentation. Make it a high priority. Preparation usually takes far longer than you think it will. You may work on some steps, like preparing your visual aids, while you're developing the opening, body, and closing of your talk. The planning stage is the most important part of any preparation. By rushing through it, you can easily make embarrassing mistakes that will lessen the impact of your presentation. Remember this rule: Don't procrastinate: Plan and prepare! It's the best way to reduce your nerv- ousness on the day of the presentation. Step Two: Practice Your Delivery Make sure you leave enough time in your schedule to practice your presentation before delivering it. If something doesn't sound quite right when you give your presentation, it's too late to do anything about it. Chances are that your stage fright will get worse, and everyone will know it by your quav- ering, shaky voice. A much more effective approach is to build in one or two practice sessions for yourself a day or two before the presentation. Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse your delivery, using the verbal, visual, and vocal skills. If you feel awkward delivering your central message, change the wording. If your gestures look weak, raise your energy level. To evaluate your strengths and weaknesses you may want to videotape yourself and review the tape, making any necessary adjustments in your delivery. Another option is to practice in front of colleagues or family members who can give you immediate feedback. Several practice sessions may be necessary until you've eliminated any serious problems and brought your delivery to a high level of excellence. Tip If you don't have a video camera, try taping yourself on an audiotape recorder. You'll be able to evaluate your vocal energy and verbal skills and make any necessary improvements in advance. There's an adage that practice makes perfect. That may be an overstatement, but practice will certainly make improvements in your presentation. It'll help you feel more comfortable with your delivery and reduce your stage fright on presentation day. Step Three: Meet the Audience If I'm feeling nervous before speaking to an unfamiliar audience, I often try to chat with a few people as they enter the room. I introduce myself and try to find out something about them. By getting to know some of my listeners, I'll see some familiar faces in the audience when I stand up to speak. When I deliver my opening I try to concentrate on these listeners, who seem almost like friends.