If you are like a lot of people, you may look something like this five minutes before you have to deliver your speech or presentation: your head buried in notes or flashcards, ignoring the current speaker, and just being trapped in your own little world. It is not the end of the world but that is not what you should be doing in those five minutes.

If you’re in a room and about to speak, people are probably already looking at you and sizing you up, trying to figure out by your outlook and mannerisms that whether or not you seem to know what you are talking about and whether or not you are credible. This is what i recommend: 5 minutes before the speech or presentation, you need to be looking at the people you are going to be presenting to. You need to be present in the moment. If you are the first or the only speaker, you should be walking around shaking hands with people and talking to them about their issues so that you are able to show real concern with them. Try to meet as many people as possible instead of being seen going through your notes like you are trying to memorize at the last minute.

I always recommend that you speak with a single sheet of notes. You may make several copies of them and strategically place them around the room for your help but do not dedicate the time before your speech to burying your head in the notes. Listen to the speaker before you so you can tie in with something he says to show that you are alert and attentive. The time to think of new stuff to say has passed- now you just need to exude confidence and show that you are relaxed and happy to be focused on your audience. That is the best way to spend the 5 minutes before your speech.

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