Practice. Practice. Practice.
That old adage that says ‘practice makes perfect.’ I do not believe in perfection, because it actually sets the bar lower (but we’ll save that for another time) but I certainly believe in practice.
Before my dissertation presentations, both the most recent one and the one back in April, I spent a lot of time talking with myself – putting the presentation up on the screen and going through it. My goal was to weave a story through the facts of the thesis I built and the data I had collected. While most PhD dissertations are fact heavy, I suspect they are quite dull to attend.
In addition to the solo practice, I made sure to practice this presentation with an audience, seeking feedback on where I was doing well and what might need work. Plus, it helped me to work on my nerves to stand up in front of an audience delivering this work.
We practice for most things we do in life. Most of us follow a training schedule from a coach before a big race or maybe you are involved with a sport with a high skill level and must practice those skills. If music is our jam, then we rehearse. Writers practice with writing prompts. Anyone who really wants to be great at something puts in the practice.
We can all ‘wing’ it sometimes, but I believe it makes for a much more stressful situation. Also, that practice will help you tease out the areas that you need to improve. I really enjoy presentations, even the nerves that come with them. I also enjoy the practice and preparation that goes into being my best on stage. Plus, those first few practice rounds you can really tease out some of your nervous energy.