If you’re presenting with slides, then you need to make your presentation as seamless as possible. It should appear totally natural and the slides should complement what you are saying.
You should know what’s coming next so that you don’t have to look round at the screen or even too much at your laptop.
And the only way to do that is to rehearse. And then rehearse again. And again.
I often hear people say that you can be over-rehearsed and I agree that there can come a point where you no longer sound natural; where you actually sound ‘rehearsed’. Everyone has a different way of doing things but my answer, which may seem counter-intuitive, is: rehearse some more. Rehearse until you are so comfortable with your material that you can relax when presenting and be natural again.
It’s even more vital to rehearse when you are using slides because you’ve got more to worry about than just remembering what to say. You’ve got to remember when to click on to the next slide, maybe when to blank the screen and also to know what comes next.
I saw a top professional speaker recently go wrong because he lost his way with his slides. He clicked onto the next slide and realised that he had missed out a part of the speech relating to that slide. Had he not been using slides, no-one would have known he’d missed a bit out, but because he was under-rehearsed, the appearance of this slide threw him off kilter temporarily.
As well as rehearsing in the days and weeks before your presentation, make sure you also have an opportunity to have a quick run-through at the venue if possible to ensure that your slides look the way thy should and that the tech is working.