The most common answers to the question, “How do you prepare for presentation day?” run along these lines: “I lock myself in my hotel room the night before, and rehearse,” or “I learn all my lines by heart the week before.” There’s no debating that preparation in the days or weeks prior to presenting is a major factor in your success or failure. But many presenters ignore another crucial time: the morning of presentation day.
Everything you do that morning, from the time you wake up to the last few minutes before you take the stage, plays a part in your performance quality and results. That’s why we’ve drawn up a list of things you should do – and not do – at the start of your presentation day.
Don’t travel a long way
If you can possibly avoid it, don’t travel a long distance on the morning of your presentation. If you’re presenting at your usual workplace, or someplace within the same city, this isn’t a problem. But if you’re travelling across the state or country to your presentation venue, it’s best to make the journey at least a day before the show.
This helps avoids considerable potential stress. Long-distance travel delays, local transportation issues, finding your venue in an unfamiliar city, unfamiliarity with the presentation room and equipment, and more. You don’t need any of that the morning of your talk. Travel early to minimize rush and other stresses. Ideally, you’ll also get a chance to visit the room or hall where you’ll be speaking, so you can familiarize with the room, test the equipment, and so on.
Eat a power breakfast
When you sleep, levels of the body’s stress hormone, cortisol, rise. Bring your cortisol levels back into balance with a healthy breakfast. There are a lot of opinions around as to just what that means. What seems most effective for me is some high-fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Like this: a small bowl of oatmeal with berries, then some scrambled eggs or egg whites with avocado. Or may a couple of slices of whole wheat toast, two poached eggs, and some pineapple and mango.
I realize that if you’ve got to give a major presentation in a few hours, you might not be too interested in eating, but try to get in a healthy breakfast anyway – even if the quantity is small.
Drink plenty of water
This might seem a bit too simple to matter, but dehydration is a serious concern. It can markedly reduce your energy, leaving you feeling drained and foggy – and that’s no state to be in when you’re supposed to be up on the stage, connecting with and influencing a group of people. Even mild dehydration can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness and other unhappy symptoms. So yes, even something as simple as drinking four quarts of water a day can make a significant difference in your performance as a presenter. Try to drink up the first of those four the morning of your presentation.
Go through your presentation one last time
On the morning of the presentation, make time for one last pass through your presentation, and review all your notes, too. Of course, you should have learned the presentation well already, long before presentation day. This morning review is just to make sure everything’s fresh in your mind. It’s a confidence booster and can help you relax, too.
Twenty minutes before presentation time, SHUT DOWN
Twenty minutes before you’re due to begin your presentation, shut everything else down. Take a restroom break. Relax. Take some deep breaths, count slowly to ten, and imagine yourself calmly, confidently present in front of your audience. Now clear your head as thoroughly as you can and just relax. Realize that 90% or more of the people presenting today, anywhere, are not nearly as prepared as you are. You’re ready, and you’re going to blow that audience away.
Give yourself the best chance of success on presentation day by following the simple steps I’ve outlined. To restate them briefly: Avoid last-minute travel; eat a power breakfast; get enough water; go through your presentation one last time, and then SHUT DOWN – take some time to relax before the big show.
Good luck up there!
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Over to you: Is there a pre-presentation routine you’ve found especially effective?