Practice, practice, practice

Just under a year ago, I was asked to conduct a workshop on presentation for a group of students. Nice challenge, but I was only given an hour and a half and what exactly do you tell?

It was also a nice moment of reflection. But also: what do I find strong in other speakers?

I thought about it for quite a long time. I also came up with a whole bunch of tips and tricks and facts. I shared them all with the 30 super-interested students who really absorbed everything like a sponge. For an hour and a half. Pretty long for that generation I know. I myself had a very satisfied feeling at the end. So did they.

But as always, I reflected afterwards on what went well and where there was still (much) room for improvement. It marks the perfectionist in me. What I was mainly looking for was exactly what had been most valuable to HIM. So where I could really make a difference. And of course, there was only one way to find out: asking. That turned out not to be very complicated, because my own daughter was one of the listeners and feedback is easy to arrange.

Two things came out of it. One I'll save for later, the other I'll share in advance. And that one was so simple that I found it almost embarrassing: people unanimously agreed that the biggest insight of the session was that you have to practice a lot 😊. Practice, practice, practice. Better a shorter, but smooth presentation, than a long one with bumps. Yet this was found difficult, because learning everything 'by heart' in particular caused extra stress for many of them. Because then, at the moment suprème, the right phrase was not remembered. And if one part was forgotten, they were completely off their game.

"Practice, practice, practice is the key to a successful presentation "

Mockup - Presentation Canvas


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We asked Nancy Rademaker How she gets started.
'I believe that is a bit different for everyone. But the essence is still to do it mostly HARDOP. Some say you have to stand in front of the mirror. I never do that, it's incredibly distracting for me to have to look at my own head all the time. But I do practise out loud. I look out the window and imagine my audience sitting there. And I do it over and over again. Especially when I need to make new 'content' my own. It doesn't necessarily have to be by heart, preferably not even, but PROVING the words and concepts you use is very important. For me, it's as if it sticks in my brain that way. And it also helps with timing; as a speaker, you usually have a set time slot and the key is to stay within it. And you only know if you can do that if you actually practise out loud!

I asked the students recently. Did you do anything with it? How did it go? Did it make a difference? One said: "I had been practising all over the place. I used to be always anxious about a presentation, but now I stood there and thought 'I'm going to nail this one'." Nice right? 

Nancy Rademaker


Nancy is an international keynote speaker with a passion for technology who presents on innovation, customer- and employee-centric business and artificial intelligence.

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