Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

How do you feel the day before a presentation?

Do you know the experience of having a presentation the next day and constantly dream about it? Do you succeed in your dreams or fail? I woke up today experiencing this. And I cannot tell whether I succeeded or failed. I only know that such experience is one of vulnerability.

Day before presentation

I usually deal with vulnerability with proper preparation. But circumstances led me to a short time to do it. And the day before I finished and rehearsed a presentation I was doing the next today.

Are stakes high? Medium, I’d say, but I take every presentation seriously, and as an opportunity to share thoughts, ideas and – somehow – inspire the audience to think and act.

Therefore, the challenge is simple. How can you prepare when you don’t have enough time?



Reduce it to the essential. My experience, in this case, is that I don’t know as much as other colleagues about the topic. Mainly because they lived the experience, but asked me to share it. Therefore, I cannot share what I haven’t lived. Thus, the only way is to focus on the essential.



I consider humility to be the most significant asset while preparing a presentation in a short time frame. Accept your limitations, and be open to the possibility of failing and be humble while presenting the essential.



One of my research topics is a theory (constructal) which states that the evolution of configuration in nature moves toward facilitating the currents which flow in the system. While presenting, thoughts flow. And despite reducing your speech to the essential, ultimately, you look at the audience and let their eyes and expressions be the constraints that help you adjust the flow of thoughts. Are they bored with the topic you’re discussing? How can you capture, or recapture their attention?


Personal experience

I think the best way to capture the attention is through personal experience.

A personal experience you have makes you a storyteller, and this may attract your audience’s attention.

A personal experience you provide make you a source of inspiration and rewards the audience.

In the end, everything is going to be ok. If it’s not ok, well, that only means you haven’t reached the end yet.


Question: have you ever felt this way the day before a presentation?

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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