Confidence and Reflective Practice in your presentation

RP – could be Received Pronunciation, but on this occasion it stands for Reflective Practice. Great, but what’s Reflective Practice?

At it’s most simple, it’s the habit of looking back at something (performance, project, meeting, whatever) and asking yourself how it went – but doing it in a structured, objective and helpful way. Why would you do it? Because we can learn from anything, from the most awful car-crash of a presentation all the way to the  slickest of professional deliveries in the style of Steve Jobs. That’s the obvious reason, of course, but this is Confidence Month, so there’s obviously another reason – and it’s that knowing that you’ve used your event/whatever to get better is a real confidence boost. If you didn’t do too well, you can positively and honestly say to yourself you’ll do better next time.  And if you got a seven minute standing ovation you can look for seven minutes and 30 seconds next time 😉

They key to RP working as a confidence booster is that it needs to be systematic and structured.

What happened? What were the consequences? What can we do about that?

There are dozens of systems for RP out there, but we use one called the Rolfe Methodology. It’s probably not the best one, but it’s more or less the most simple, and I’d rather have a good, simple system that actually gets used than a good, brilliant system that doesn’t.The Rolfe Methodology at it’s core is embarrassingly simple – it’s to ask yourself the question ‘what’ three times, like this:

An example might make it clearer about how it helps with your confidence.

  • What happened? The VGA cable wasn’t long enough to reach the projector if that was in it’s best place
  • What were the consequences? I couldn’t have my laptop where I wanted it, causing me to stress during my presentation
  • What can we do about it? The next day, we bought a very (very!) long VGA cable so it won’t ever happen again

What that means is that I can be completely confident that, no matter what, I’m always going to be able to have my laptop where I want it.

It’s a very personal, presentation-orientated example, but you can apply it to almost everything.  Personally, I find it helpful in three distinct but related ways.

The utterly pragmatic advantage is that every time I do something I get better at it. I’m never going to be perfect but I can hope.

There’s a psychological advantage, which lies in knowing that nothing is ever a total failure. At the very least I’m learning what didn’t work! 😉

At my core, there’s something very positive about growing and getting continually better. It’s a healthy ‘growth mindset’.

The trick lies in doing your RP every time. A simple checklist should take care of that – just put your RP into your list of things to do. On a personal note, we do it in the car or on the train on the way back from a gig, with the results recorded in Evernote.


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