Oh the shock that hit me when I saw graduate students get scared of making presentations even to an audience of 50 fellow students. Not my fault, I eat presentations/speeches as breakfast all through my 4 years in the University. So, I was confused at first. In fact, one day, I had to force myself to believe I was studying with adults when a lady in my class busted into tears when it was her turn to make a presentation that may not last more than 5 minutes. What? Tears?
Well, 3 semesters later.
Today, we had a couple of presentations given by the same students I described above. Trust me, there’s an improvement. In fact, the same lady that cried months ago gave a presentation today that held the entire class together. Imagine the applause she got from me. No doubt, she has changed. Generally not the best (as expected), but a huge improvement from what I saw during the first semester. What led to the improvement? Time and practice. Making presentations is part of business school life. So, these guys have spent the last 14 months or so making several presentations for all the 18 courses we’ve had so far. It doesn’t matter whether the presentations were good, bad or average. What I choose to be concerned about is the improvements I see.
The point here is that we get better with time and practice. No-one is born skilled. Everyone must learn to develop his skill set by practice. When I learnt web design design in 2008, I was spending about 18 hours every day practicing, because of the understanding of the 10,000 hour principle. I got free jobs and volunteered to work on several projects with no pay, just for the purpose of honing my web skills. 6 years down the line, the benefit of that still reflects in bank credit alerts :-).
So, whatever you learn, find platforms to practice. For example, if it’s presentations, be the first to volunteer to present a group assignment. Whatever you do, just ensure you don’t stop practicing. (I’ll write about how I learnt to speak in public later on).
We get better everyday by practicing. Doing is learning and learning is doing. If you have time (you should), read about the 10,000 hour rule or better still read the book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell’s.