Public Speaking: Rehearse for Results

Like it or loathe it, public speaking is a requirement for many who work in the HR or Benefits profession. Whether we speak to large audiences or small groups, the art of delivering content with confidence takes practice.

I was reminded of this last month when my colleague, Jenna Igoe and I, presented at the HBCE Conference in Florida. The topic was one near and dear to our hearts, Innovating the Open Enrollment Experience. Our passion for this topic arises from the impact this annual event has on the lives of our clients’ employees.

Though we shared enthusiasm for the message, the realization that we’d be speaking to approximately 100 people was daunting. The attendees are our peers and we wanted to provide them with useful information (and perhaps a few laughs) in exchange for the investment of their time. David Bowie’s Under Pressure played loudly in our heads as we developed the presentation, talking points and slide order.

Jenna and I set ourselves up for success by setting aside time for several opportunities to practice our presentation. We met twice before the conference to finalize content and ensure the presentation filled the time allotted. We committed to practicing at home, and thanks to some willing family members, were able to rehearse separately to gain comfort with our portion of the presentation. Most importantly, we were able to access the presentation space the night before our session and spend time adjusting to the layout, deciding where we’d stand and performing in front of a group of empty chairs. By the time we went live, we were ready.

Practice may not make perfect, but in our case, it made for outstanding feedback and kind words from those in attendance. As you prepare for your next public speaking engagement, don’t underestimate the importance of practicing often in the time leading up to the big day. The more comfortable you are with the content, the more confident you will be delivering it. As someone who presents often, this ritual has not let me down yet. The butterflies may never go away completely but practicing helps slow the flutter.