In my younger days I performed quite a bit. I liked rehearsing and being on stage. I was a student teacher for an acting class. I somehow became the host of my high school talent show (footage of that has been burned). Yet despite having zero qualms about putting myself out there once my lines had been memorized, I was completely and utterly terrified of auditions. To this day, I have recurring nightmares about auditioning for a play and bombing so miserably that I feel embarrassed for hours after waking up.
We’ve written 4 blog posts about Confidence . View all topics »
When it comes to conducting a well-orchestrated design presentation, having prior presentation experience is a false measuring stick for success. Preparedness, not experience, actually breeds the confidence needed.
“Are you ready?” Klaus asked finally.
“No,” Sunny answered.
“Me neither,” Violet said, “but if we wait until we’re ready we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives, Let’s go.”
– Lemony Snicket, The Ersatz Elevator
Like Violet states, you can’t wait for the perfect moment or the deserving job title to feel comfortable presenting work to clients. To help nudge you out of the nest, I’ve culled these personal tips for anyone who has to stand up in front of an audience and talk about design fluently and with confidence.
Deep in the middle of the night, illuminated by the glow of five screens full of graphs, data, code, and live video, I sat on edge, as I monitored a small army of servers. The O Music Awards, a 24-hour, live-streamed music and awards festival in New York City, was in full swing.
Sometime after 3am, I saw the first warning sign of a major issue—a slight uptick in an otherwise-flat graph. Over the next few seconds, it grew to a huge spike, and I alerted the team that we had a problem. Thanks to some well-configured caching, the homepage and live streams were unaffected, which meant a large majority of users didn’t even know we were having an issue. But, the failures were going to cause errors during voting, and a few other pages on the site were going to crash. The situation wasn’t great, but the mission-critical things were still working properly.
When I was a rookie designer, self-doubt ruled my life.
On a typical day, harsh criticisms like: “You’re a terrible designer! So and so asks way better questions than you do. You’re using four button styles, and your subnav looks like a pack of hot dogs.” consumed my thoughts.
Many people don’t like to admit their lack of confidence because it is perceived as weak. I’m four years into my career now, and I’m still working on taming that nagging voice inside my head. Luckily, I’ve learned that confidence is a skill, just like typography and CSS. It requires practice, time, and discipline.