Practise your presentation like a music piece

I recently had the pleasure of being allowed to observe at close quarters a brass band who were rehearsing a test piece prior to the UK national championships which are taking place at the Royal Albert Hall this weekend.

The piece was 18 minutes long yet not once during the two hour session did they play it from start to finish, and this was the fourth such rehearsal.

Instead the conductor focused on individual segments with more often than not only certain sections of the thirty strong band playing.

This made me think about rehearsing a presentation.

Firstly most people don’t practice their presentations enough, if at all, and secondly I imagine most practice the whole thing straight through.

So here’s a suggestion. Break your presentation down into three key sections – the Opening, the Core or Key Messages and the Summary or Finish.

Work on each section when you practice, particularly with regard to the opening.

Why do this?

Firstly the opening of a presentation is crucial to gaining the attention of your audience. It is also the time when most presenters feel most nervous. Nail the opening 30 seconds and you will relax and any nerves will dissipate as you move onto the core or middle part.

The core part will usually take up around 75% of your allocated time and provide the detail, the key points, the explanation. This is the bit where you are sharing ideas, your expertise and knowledge so it’s usually the bit most presenters feel most comfortable with, so in a sense it needs the least practice. It is also the part of the presentation where presenters overrun on time. They relax into the presentation, begin to enjoy it and start adding to their content which results in an overrun on time.

Which in turn means they often run out of time for the final section, the finish or summary. I’ve seen countless presenters suddenly announce that they have overrun or having been advised through a series of signals from the organiser (usually the good old tapping on the watch signal) they literally stop. A quick thank you and off they go.

The summary is the last thing your audience hear from you so it’s your chance to remind them of why they should be interested in your product or service and to tell them what you would like them to do next, so it’s vital you don’t miss this bit out and it’s important you know what you’re going to say.

Many presenters fail to practice their summary even if they practice everything else.

So practice like a brass band and break your presentation in chunks – the start, the middle and the finish allocating your practice equally to all three.

Then pull it all together for a couple of full run throughs. You’ll find this a much more effective way of rehearsing and it will ensure you have a great start and really good finish.

Good luck with your next presentation and good luck to the Tongwynlais Band who’s rehearsal inspired this article.

If you would like help with your presentations please give me, Trevor Lee, a call on 07785 390717 or email me via

I work with company’s as well as individuals, with each session designed to match you or your company’s presenting needs.

Presenting is an increasingly invaluable business skill so make sure you are the best presenter in your sector and use presenting to help you stand out and win business.