Practice Practice! Practice!!

This coming Tuesday, I’ll be facilitating the first meeting of the Bay Area Agile Managers Support Group. The event will start off with a short workshop focused on one of the key criteria for having successful meetings. Today was the day I practiced the workshop with a live studio audience.

Overall, it went well, but there were some bumps. There was a ‘bonus’ section that I thought I could add on to the end of the workshop to present some closely related material. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but when I did it live, the ‘bonus’ material didn’t flow. Conceptually, the additional material was just a bit too far from the core material and required the participants to change gears in way that was distracting. This was not what I wanted to happen at the end of the workshop, so I pulled the material. My workshop will go smoother, and the participants will have a better and more useful experience because I did a dress rehearsal.

The same idea of a dress rehearsal works extremely well for presentations. If you are going to give a presentation, the single best thing you can do is practice it a few times. First, go through it out loud (really, out loud) by yourself. Make sure that the length, pacing, and transitions seem good. Next, you want to get as close to the real thing as possible. Practice in the same room that you will be presenting in. Use the exact same equipment that you will use on the big day. Get some friends, a mentor, or your manager to listen to your practice session and give you feedback. Doing this will make you much more confident on the big day. The presentation will go smoother and your audience will have a more positive opinion of you and the material you are presenting.

Want some help addressing the challenges of managing engineers? Check out the Bay Area Engineering Managers Support Group. It’s free!

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