Three years ago, I was required to give a presentation in class on findings from a scientific study of my choice that had to last five minutes. I was petrified.
The days just before my presentation were especially difficult. I imagined all sorts of mishaps as I stood in front of my classmates and teacher. I imagined them yawning, staring or, even worse, sneering at me as I fumbled for words with my knees shaking.
Then, the night before my imagined humiliation, I asked my sister to time my talk and give me a critique. We did several run-throughs, and a funny thing happened. Each time I spoke, I started to feel much more comfortable.
The practice sessions helped me get progressively better at describing the study and its results. The next day in class, as I looked at everyone’s faces and began to speak, I experienced a sense of confidence that gradually replaced my initial nervousness.
After all, hadn’t I just done this very same thing the night before?