Michael Jordan scored more baskets in his mind than he ever did on the court. He didn’t become one of the greatest athletes of the century with physical skill alone. Before every match, Jordan relaxed and visualized himself making basket after basket, in every imaginable scenario.
Recent studies have proven what athletes have known for decades: Mental rehearsal is a powerful skill. Imagining yourself doing an action triggers neurons to fire in the same areas of the brain that are activated when the action is actual being done. These neurons control attention, perception, memory, and motor control.
Just like athletes, you too can practice mental rehearsal. It’s especially impactful when utilized for high-stress situations like giving presentations. In this post, I’m going to quickly run you through mental rehearsal steps for your next presentation.
The evening before your presentation, find a quiet place and lie down. In your mind's eye, see yourself delivering your presentation. Imagine yourself watching each member of the audience's expressions as they respond beautifully and accurately to your presentation. If you do not like your response to a question from your imaginary audience, try again to answer the question. Continue to mentally rehearse your answers until you are satisfied. Once satisfied, commit your responses to memory.
Now try to focus on the sentences and words themselves. This step functions more like a vocal rehearsal in your mind. Pay close attention to your word choice, your segues, and where pauses in your speech might occurs. If time and physical conditions allow, practice vocalizing your presentation out loud. This will help you pinpoint words that you stumble over or where audible pauses may appear.
Experienced presenters know that they must be mindful of their body posture. When you rehearse, take the time to focus on the impact of your body language and location in the room.
· Are you standing or seated?
· Are you standing or seated upright?
· Are you delivering your presentation from memory or reading it from notes?
· Are your hand gestures controlled and welcoming?
I guarantee that if you follow these simple rehearsal steps the night before your next presentation, you’ll be more confident, more adept, and deliver the presentation that you envisioned.
Diana is President of The Soft Skills Group Inc. She is a senior training & development professional with 20 years of experience in delivery, design & consulting with Fortune 500 companies, Universities & Colleges in Canada, the USA, Mexico and Europe.