Try the 'Rehearse with Coach' option on Microsoft PowerPoint

As part of a camp I attended in college, we had to make presentations on a topic of our choice.

I chose to speak about my home state, Kerala.


When my turn came to present, I started, went on a for a few seconds and blanked out. It didn't help that the guy whom I had a huge crush on was seated in the front row.


Jokes aside - there were 2 other reasons for me drawing a blank:

Two: I had stage fright at that time and there were more than 50 people in the audience. That was a very large number for me to face then.

Three: I hadn't practiced.


Because I prided myself in being a last minute person, I waited till 1 day before the presentation to read up, make notes and put a few transparencies together. (Yes, that was a thing!)

I may have read my notes end to end and looked at my transparencies just once - on my way to college.


So, the blanking out was meant to happen.


Although I wished the Earth would part and swallow me; I survived that episode, somehow!


From then on, I've been a little more careful. At minimum, I make a note of the key points in advance and have them in mind for important presentations.


There are of course some crucial presentations where you can't take a chance. I had one such recently and knew I had to practice for it.


Practicing in front of the mirror works well for many people. Somehow, when I start with it, I think it comes across as contrived. So I get conscious, start laughing, or stop mid-way.


Same thing with recording myself on the phone and practicing in front of my husband, or sister.


If you're like me, here's something that will help in such situations (if you use PowerPoint during your presentations). It's the 'Rehearse with Coach' option on PowerPoint online and is available as part of the Microsoft 365.


I used it to rehearse my presentation and found it to be helpful. It's not entirely accurate but it does the job.


If you like real-time feedback, it will prompt you real time when you use too many fillers, read your slides verbatim, or even speak too fast.

In case real-time feedback seems distracting to you, you can uncheck that option before you start rehearsing.


In both cases, at the end of a practice session, you get a neat report with a summary of the time taken, number of slides rehearsed, your originality, your pronunciation, pace, pitch, use of repetitive words and fillers, among others!


So, the next time you have an important presentation to make and want to practice it a few times, try 'Rehearse with Coach'.


Practice makes progress!


If you've used 'Rehearse with Coach', what has been your experience with it?


How to use 'Rehearse with Coach': https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/rehearse-your-slide-show-with-speaker-coach-cd7fc941-5c3b-498c-a225-83ef3f64f07b#:~:text=Open%20your%20presentation%20in%20PowerPoint%20for%20Windows%20desktop.,are%20ready%20to%20begin%20rehearsing


The link shared above has step by step instructions (in text and video format) from Microsoft Support about how to Rehearse your slideshow with Speaker Coach.


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