5 Things You Should Do in the Hour Leading Up to a Big Presentation

June 3, 2019

Here are five last-second public speaking tips to nail that big presentation as a presenter that'll calm your nerves.

When you talk about a #MomentThatMatters in your career, there are few crisper examples than giving a big presentation.

Generally, you are there, with an audience of people – including, sometimes, your boss, your boss’s boss and your boss’s boss’s boss – all watching on. And, unlike a lot of other things at work, you pretty much get one shot at it.

In other words, it’s nerve wracking. You want to get it right.

The best way to shine is practicing your speech several times and really understanding your script. But there are also a few things you can do in the hour leading up to the presentation, which can really make a big difference.

What are those things?

In his LinkedIn Learning course Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking, LinkedIn Learning Instructor Todd Dewett listed five last second-tips to do before giving a presentation that'll increase your chances of standing out (in a good way).

Instructor Todd Dewett lists five things you should do before giving a big presentation, in a clip from his LinkedIn Learning course, Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking.

According to Dewett, in the hour leading up to your big presentation, five things you should do are:

1. Arrive to the venue at least one hour early.

Obviously, it would be a nightmare to show up to the presentation late. Although even if you make it there on time, but you feel rushed or disorganized, you'll be in the wrong mindset.

Instead, get there an hour early, as it’ll put you at ease and allow you time to do the four following items on the list, Dewett said.

2. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings.

You get there early – perfect. First thing you should do is examine the physical surroundings and figure out logistics.

For example, where will you put your notes? Is there water? And, if you have handouts, either leave them on empty chairs or – if that’s not possible – figure out how you’ll hand them out when it is your time to talk.

3. Test the audiovisual equipment.

Next, if you can, test out how to change slides, test the microphone and any other audiovisual equipment you'll use.

These two steps feel like minor things, but they’ll weigh heavily on your mind if you don’t do them. Instead, knock them out early, so you can focus on what really matters – the presentation itself, Dewett said.

4. Practice out loud, in the spot you’ll stand in.

This might not be possible – although if isn’t possible that day, perhaps you could come earlier or another day and practice.

But, if you can, stand where you’ll stand when you’ll actually give the presentation and give your talk. You can give it in a hushed tone so people don’t hear, but just doing it will give you confidence right before the event starts, according to Dewett.

5. Network with your audience as they come in.

Here’s a great hack to feel less nervous. As people come in, socialize with them; joke around.

This really helps calm your nerves, as instead of silently building up the presentation in your head, you’ll see it more as a conversation with a group of regular people. Additionally, it’ll give you a feel for the room, which will help you better tailor your talk – in tone, perhaps, not in content – to the people inside it.

One last tip from Dewett – ask one audience member to be your silent critic, who will give you feedback after you speak. That feedback can be incredibly helpful as you prepare for your next presentation.

Want to learn more? Watch Todd Dewett’s full course, Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking. Videos within the course cover how to: