Preparing to present

A couple of weeks ago I presented at the Avon University Libraries in Consortium (AULIC) conference. I deliver a lot of sessions in the course of my day job, but it has been quite a while since I delivered a presentation outside of my library and I wanted to get it just right. So, I took a different approach to my preparation – I recorded my test runs. I found it a really useful aid and want to share my experience here.

Why record?

My main motivation for recording the practice runs of my presentation was to get the flow of my words right. When I present I don’t speak from a script. I figure that if you have a script you can go wrong, but if you have a really clear idea of what you want to say and a few prompts then you can’t mess it up. Without a script however it’s quite difficult to practice timings, to see how the content progresses or to work out if you’ve missed anything vitally important. By recording my test runs I hoped to overcome some of these problems.

How to record?

I used my iPhone and the pre-installed Voice Memos app. This was incredibly easy and the sound quality was really good. The only downside of this comes in the limitations of the Voice Memo app. You can record any length of audio but only share (via email or MMS) short recordings so I couldn’t quickly export the file from my phone. Your voice memos will download into iTunes when you sync your phone, but this didn’t help in my case as my work machine is not connected to my home iTunes account. I have since done a bit of research into audio recording apps and have found AudioMemos which seems to offer a much wider range of functions.

If I didn’t have an iPhone then I’d have used Audacity and a USB microphone to record straight onto a computer, or a basic dictaphone.

Benefits of recording

The greatest benefit to me was really getting the words I wanted to say stuck in my head. I’ve never been able to get a script to do this but having the audio really worked. I used the recording to refine some of the content in particular areas. I also listened to it on the train on my way to the conference and found it much more relaxing to hear what I wanted to say than to pore over my notes.

I am definitely going to do this again and I’d recommend that you try it too.

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