Delivery Lesson One: You cannot deliver a strong presentation if you haven’t adequately prepared.
My students have a hard time with this one. They often protest, “But I’m so much better when I just wing it.”
After teaching Public Speaking as well as Professional Communication and Presentation for the past two years and seeing between 3,000 and 5,000 student speeches, I can tell you this with certainty: I have never seen an “A” presentation from someone who was winging it.
A good presentation requires prep time. Nancy Duarte says the preparation time for a presentation should be between 36 and 90 hours (Source). In The Naked Presenter, the ultimate book on delivery, Garr Reynolds explains that preparation is essential to delivery because if you haven’t adequately prepared, you won’t be focused on your delivery; you’ll only be focused on content because you’re worried about what’s going to come out of your mouth next.
Remember that delivery is one leg of the presentation stool along with content and visual story (your slideshow). When we “wing it,” our delivery might be okay, but our content and visual story suffer. Thus, our presentation stool is wobbly, and our audience doesn’t really get what they need from the speech.
And good delivery can only go so far…