I start by trying to get all of my ideas out on the paper, or the power point or whatever the medium is. One way to prep a presentation is to go slowly over each slide as you go, but I think I like to get all the ideas out, and try to re-order them and try different low-stakes versions before investing in creating the final product. This method of brainstorming helps me see several possible outlines for the presentation.
Next I try to practice out many of the different slides, even in the unfinished form. Sometimes an idea might look good on the screen, but then when you start to say it out loud, kind of falls apart. This leads to the next section.
After trying out a number of ideas, some parts just don’t make it. I cut slides. And then continue to practice, trying to keep track of the flow, the outline and the structure.
4. More Practice
Once I get the slides close to done I just keep practicing. I usually practice in presenter mode with the timer, and add notes each time I go. Sometimes I practice in front of a mirror in the bathroom. Sometimes I practice and pace around a room. This is the version of practice where I change what I say each time, trying to make it better.
Now that I’ve practiced the presentation a number of times, I try to finalize exactly what I’m going to say. At this point I have an idea of how long each section should take, what the transitions should be, what the key words and phrases are to use, and what the few remaining things are to fix in the presentation. I’m not doing any massive overhaul at this point. Now I’m just trying to get it down exactly. I write out the outline, with time markers letting me know when I should be at each section.
6. Practice, Practice, Practice
Now I just keep practicing. I practiced this pitch as I walked outside towards the subway. I practiced it many, many more times in front of a mirror. I timed it each time to see how I close I was. I practiced in the presenter mode several times, but then started to present without the next slide to simulate the actual pitch.
So this was how I practiced my pitch. This was a very specific type of pitch, and usually I wouldn’t nail down exactly what I would say and have exact slides—but I think I did this because of the time limit and format. I still use many of these steps no matter what the presentation is—mainly brainstorming, cutting and practicing—but usually I just end up with a core list of ideas and points that must be hit, not an exact slide deck.