Last week we covered how to craft the perfect presentation, this week we’re taking you from the notes on your desk to standing in the front of the room. 

And if you’re thinking, “But Kate, I crafted the perfect speech and I know it backward and forward. I practiced in front of my mirror, my significant other, and even my dog a million times. I have the whole thing memorized. How in the world could I prepare more?” Then keep reading. The key to delivering the perfect presentation is not in over preparing, it’s in PROPER PREPARATION.

Today we’ll cover the remaining two points of Cicero’s De Inventione:

  • Memory
  • Delivery

Memory – No, do not memorize your speech word for word. 

Memorizing your speech word for word is dangerous. Unless you are an actor by nature and can memorize monologues, I highly suggest you not even try. If you forget one word, you’ll find yourself blanking out on where you were and what comes next. And I’ll tell you what, those pauses are awkward. Create an outline for yourself with your major bullet points and some key facts you don’t want to forget. Arrange it in a way that is comprehensive, add relatable stories or statistics that speak to your audience, and let the information flow naturally. 

When you go into that boardroom, understand that you know the information better than anyone sitting down. You have a basic outline – even though you don’t need it. You have practiced this millions of times in front of the mirror, your significant other, and your dog – each time a little different. You have it down. Now stop. Let it go, leave it be. You’ve practiced enough. You know it. 

Delivery – Get your hands out of your pocket.

93% of our communication is nonverbal. This means that your hand movements, your tone, your pitch, what you wear, is all communicated simultaneously. The best way to deliver your speech comes from understanding your audience. If you are delivering a speech to a boardroom of older professionals, wear your best suit (muted/natural colors with maybe a pop of color, depending on your own personality), wear your hair styled and neat, and natural make up, if you choose to wear any. If you are presenting to a start-up company that is a bit more casual, don’t be afraid to dress down a little, while keeping a sense of professionalism. Read your room as best you can immediately, and then deliver your speech/presentation accordingly. 

Release that breath you’ve been holding since you got off the elevator, smile, shake hands, learn names, and pretend you’re talking about your dreams to a room of new friends. People can pick up on your anxiety. Relax, take a sip of water, and persuade your audience to invest in you and your product. Communicate this in every little movement. Be strategic about it. Look around the room evenly, use the space, fill the room with your presence.  

As my former teacher, Adam Sharples-Brooks, would say, “It’s not about getting rid of the butterflies, it’s about making them fly in formation.”