Last week I had an opportunity to facilitate a session at the LINGOs annual member meeting. After the presentation, my co-facilitator, Shannon Cavallari from PATH, shared her observations about what helped her most in the days leading up to our presentation. Following are her reflections, written immediately after our presentation:
It’s a wonderful feeling; this mixture of excitement, nervousness, and RELIEF because I had prepared. I had a plan A and a plan B should it not unfold in the way I hoped it would.
I’m a learning and development professional, but my skill set lies more on the learning technologies side. Basically, I do put together elearning programs and projects. Rarely do I get invited to stand in front of a group with the intent to inspire, teach or change behavior.
With my Lesson Plan template in hand, Brian and I started mapping out the presentation.
Objectives identified? CHECK.
Activities designed? CHECK.
Engagement with the participants? CHECK.
Opportunities for questions and lessons learned? CHECK.
The Lesson Plan allowed me to think through and assign specific blocks of time to each of these steps, from the start of the presentation to the finish.
Then we did a dry-run and more light-bulbs went off. This step – the dressed rehearsal – is such a crucial step in preparing for a presentation and yet most of us skip it or don’t give it the attention it deserves. In my dry-run, I practiced what I would say AND I practiced where I would stand, and it revealed questions I would need to ask my co-facilitator along way. The Lesson Plan allowed me to capture these questions and my thoughts on the “choreography” for each section of my presentation. I felt more at ease; I felt prepared.
I reviewed my lesson plan the evening before and the morning of our presentation. “I got this,” I thought. Then, of course, came the need for Plan B.
The audio failed on our computer and we were unable to use a video we wanted; we had planned for this to be integral to our initial 8-minute introduction to the session. But that was ok, because we had rehearsed with a Plan B in the event we might experience such a technical difficulty. I learned how essential it is to assume things can and will go wrong and think through ways to mitigate such unfortunate circumstances.
Through some anecdotal feedback at the end of our session, our participants claimed that they got what they came for. We delivered on the objectives we identified and they were happy and engaged.
Regardless if being a trainer is your full-time gig or if you’re a subject matter expert sharing your vast knowledge, I can say with certainty that it pays to practice. Not only did such preparation create a better experience for our learners, but it also put my own mind at ease. I was a better presenter because of the process.
What do you do to prepare for a presentation? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.