Today I, along with a small team, gave the biggest presentation I’ve done in years: a webinar for my company’s clients. We did an outstanding job. Now that it is over, I feel relieved and exhausted.

I spent several months earlier this year gearing up for this day. I decided early on to level up my presentation skills, which I thought were already very good. I took the learning process very seriously. I watched hundreds of hours of video: other people’s presentations, TED talks, Apple keynotes, lectures on speaking and communication, and instructional videos about visual design, slide decks, and PowerPoint. I made prototype slide decks in which I tried different techniques, and also tried to make some of the new techniques I liked work with my company’s PowerPoint template. I threw out and revised every slide I created several times. I practiced the entire talk out loud and made revisions to the visuals and to my script to communicate my ideas more succinctly. In the revision process, the true message of my presentation became more clear, and I was able to focus more on that. Lastly, I wrote almost the entire talk down in the speaker notes, to preserve the best part of my presentation, even though I had nearly memorized the entire thing while working on it.

This is all probably normal stuff to professional presenters, but I’m not one of them. For the past ten years or so, I have typically presented only once or twice a year, and most of those presentations were to my coworkers (sometimes the whole company, but it’s a small company). Before this year, I didn’t rehearse my talks, and my slides, while uncluttered, were usually not visually interesting. Now, after having put in so much hard work, I think I can present very well. I have gained confidence in myself for future presentations, and feel proud of myself for what I have achieved.