Leonard gave it his all, attempting to break his own world record of eighteen basketball dunks in one minute. He was pumped, and so was the audience on America’s Got Talent
Two dunks were successful, but on the third, the audience whooped and applauded, stopping Leonard in his tracks. He shot them a glance, then resumed. Alas, a new world recorded faded from view.
If we were dog trainers, we’d have taught Leonard using encoding specificity. In this case, we would have trained him on a large stage (similar to AGT’s) with lights flashing. In addition, we would have played audio of audiences cheering and applauding.
You’re no doubt connecting the dots to human learning. We tell our clients that surprises torpedo you, so rehearse in a space roughly the size of where you’ll present. Wear the same clothing, have a friend interrupt you, and if there might be other smells or sounds, include them. This prep reduces anxiety and is a bedrock for presenting to audiences, which can also be dynamic and unpredictable.