Big Presentations in Small Rooms book cover

Big Presentations in Small Rooms

helping ordinary people communicate with extraordinary effectiveness


You are pursuing a skillset: the ability to prepare, practice, and deliver effective presentations. Each time you take on an opportunity is another chance to learn and grow. It’s all practice.   


A friend of mine carries a French horn with him wherever he goes.  It is a skill he has been building for years and is continuing to build on an almost daily basis.  That development pays off in income as he plays for various events. 

If we rewound his life, we would eventually find a first time.  We would see the first time he picked up the horn and began this journey.  Without that beginning, his current reality would not exist.

Man playing French Horn
Practice is required to produce music on a french horn. Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash;


While teaching a group of supervisors about the importance of patience when training employees, one student spoke up excitedly.

“Do you know what FAIL stands for?”

“No.  But I want to know! What is it?”

“First Attempt In Learning.”

“Oh!  I like that.”

That was a decade ago.  And the idea has stuck with me.

For many of us, it holds true for the fourth, fifth, and fiftieth attempts.  Some skills take a long time and much determination. If failure feels fatal, then few will push through.

Window sign about need for failure.
Failure precedes success. Photo by the blowup on Unsplash;


Here is another similar idea.

A friend of mine is in the middle of a job search. Countless applications, followed by numerous interviews and a lot of rejection.

She is in a crowded field, but it is a significant area of need, so is always another opportunity waiting.  But the seemingly endless rejection can wear a person down.

Her mentor repeats a helpful phrase.  I like it as much as I like the FAIL acronym.


Here it is.

“It’s all practice.”

 Life is a learning experience.  Each rejection teaches us something if we are willing to listen and learn. Sometimes the lesson is that rejection’s hurt is painful… and temporary. 

Job Interview
Job searches often require many interviews. Consider them practice. Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash;


When I finished my first draft of the book Big Presentations in Small rooms, it was my first attempt at creating a helpful guide for presenters.  When the editors got hold of it, I quickly realized that I was many iterations away from a good product.  Thankfully, they were encouraging.  They pushed me to persevere and create something worthwhile.  After an embarrassing number of revisions, I published a book that is helping people in various industries make Big Presentations in Small Rooms. 

My next book will be even better.


It’s all practice.

Michael Gibson holding his book.
Practice improved the book. The book is practice. Photo by Kinlens Photography


The book U2 by U2 is a case study of determination.  Most of us see the rock stars of the present and do not think about the rejections and money problems, and relational stress endured to get that point.  After their first two albums, they were able to open for J Geils Band on an American tour. Sounds awesome!  You can imagine them traveling, performing, seeing thousands of people at each stop. What they actually experienced was the tough reality of playing to a crowd who came to see someone else… night after night. And at the end of the tour, they were broke.  They barely had enough money to make it home!

But it was a valuable experience.  It’s all practice.  They learned and developed.  It is impressive that U2 are still willing to grow—even though they are now legendary rock stars.

Bono singing in concert
U2 embraced experiences as practice. Photo by Todd Poirier on Unsplash


When you begin delivering presentations, enter the process with patient determination.  The skillset takes a while to develop.  You will develop the skills because you are not limited to your First Attempt In Learning.  The first stage is not the final stage.  It’s all practice.

As you persevere, you will notice that the fear lessens, the confidence strengthens, and your product improves.  Familiarity allows you to do better.  That familiarity comes when we are willing to stay in the process long enough to build it! 

Person delivering presentation.
Practice improves presentations. And the presentation is practice. Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Those initial steps can be terrifying, but they, too, are temporary.  The more steps you take, the easier each one becomes.

You need to hear this, to own this reality.  Allow this to be a positive voice in your head.

For most of us, there needs to be another voice in our heads.  Maybe it is a patiently determined supervisor, teacher, mentor, or friend. Perhaps it is the other people in the band or on the team. 

It can be humbling to seek out this help, but it just might be the thing that allows you to push through a lifetime of attempts in learning and to realize that it’s all practice.  It should be a constant realization.

If you are looking for a meaningful role to play, become that voice for other people.

Be an encourager. 

It would be great to look back on a lifetime of successes that you helped achieve. 

Seek help. 

Provide help.

And even as you become a voice of patient determination for others, realize that you will grow in that role.  You will become an increasingly effective encourager because it’s all practice.

Are you looking for a community of encouragement and guidance?  Join The Workplace Presentations Hub and receive a bonus resource, “Quick Tips for Storytelling.”

Want to hear more?  Check out The Big Presentations Podcast.

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