Communication Strategies for Scientists and Engineers
Catalog of courses and consulting   Special events and public seminars   Useful books on communication   Articles and answers   Site map   Principals and Associates   Contact information        
Tailored training in scientific and technical writing, presentations, and team building for laboratories and technical organizations

Articles: Checklist for a Mind Rehearsal

Checklist for a Mind Rehearsal

If you suffer from stage fright before making a presentation, the problem could be that you are spending too much time worrying about yourself ("Will they like me?") and not enough time thinking about your audience ("Will they learn something?"). In our presentations courses, we teach presenters and trainers techniques to replace self-consciousness with self-awareness.

One of these techniques is called a "Mind Rehearsal," a checklist you run though in your head before stepping out onto the platform or into the training room. The next time you feel the presenter's butterflies, take a deep breath and think about the answers to these questions:

  • Who will attend the presentation? What kind of people will you be speaking to? (Are they, for example, salespeople, middle-managers, accountants, ex-cons, senior citizens?) Are they a homogeneous group, or are they a "mixed" audience? What concerns will they have?
  • Why will they attend? Because they've been told to, or because they want to? (The answer to this question will determine how much motivation your audience will need.)
  • What will they already know about your subject? Will they be totally unaware or completely misinformed? Will you have to "begin at the beginning?" Or will they already have a basic understanding and therefore need only further clarification? In other words, at what level of awareness are they?
  • What "language" will the audience understand? Will they understand the "language" of computers? Or finance? Or management? Or engineering? If they do not speak the language, what "translations" will you have to make for them? (If your talk is about computers, can you assume that your audience will know what you mean when you tell them how to "boot the DOS?" Will you have to say "get the computer up and running" instead?)
  • What will they want to learn from your presentation? All good speakers establish clear objectives for their presentation. But it's also important to consider what your audience's objectives might be. If their objective is different from yours, you have a problem to solve before the presentation. How will they respond to your objective? Will they be friendly and open-minded? Or will they be resistant and skeptical, perhaps even hostile? (Wouldn't you rather know this before the actual presentation?)
  • What does your audience know about you? Do you already have credibility with them? Or will you have to establish credibility in the first few moments? Will the audience perceive you as "friend" or "foe"? (The answer to this will determine your opening comments.)

Presenters who spend their "pre-show" time deciding how to answer these questions will have little time left for self-conscious jitters.

©1996, E. Dowling for The Professional Training Company

Professional Training CompanyHome | Catalog | Events | Books | Articles | Good Grammar, Good Style™ | Contact

©1996-, Factotum Ink, Limited