Do not think on your feet
Thinking on your feet is the same as winging it. You've probably seen presenters who failed to properly prepare their presentation. They might've believed that they could wing it. Sometimes they're lucky and other times not.
Thinking on your feet is not a good strategy for presentation success. Your feet are made for walking not for thinking.
If your presentation is important why would you wing it? Do you really want the success of your presentation to ride on luck? Perhaps you'd prefer to stack the odds of success in your favor.
How do you stack the odds in your favor?
The most successful presentations were well prepared. The most successful presenters prepare. Success in any field is not an accident. It's the result of preparation.
What should you prepare for your presentation?
Research and know your material
This is the most fundamental part of preparing. Check your sources and facts. Never get caught by someone in your audience having more current information than you.
Research and understand your audience
Know their hot buttons, issues and language. Be ready with examples or stories from your audience.
Rehearse your delivery
This builds "muscle memory". Athletes and entertainers rehearse to build familiarity with their performance.
Prepare for Questions
List all the possible questions you might be asked. Write possible answers then pick the best answer for each question. Practice delivering your responses in a natural and believable manner.
Prepare for Obstacles
Rehearse your responses for the possible objections and hostile comments. They might be easy, tough or even unfair. Be ready for them.
Plan how to deal with interruptions
Cell phones ring, accidents occur and people interrupt. Don't be surprised or indignant. Be prepared.
Be prepared to alter your presentations
Stuff happens. Your time might be drastically shortened. You almost never get more time. Technical problems might arise. An emergency might steal your show.
Don't think on your feet. Have all the possible choices ready. Then all you need to do is to select from your carefully prepared menu.
Now that you are well prepared, imagine how successful your presentation will be. Folks will call you lucky.
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Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives.