I kind of break practice into different categories.After our last session, I came away feeling that I didn't carry out my role as DM in as crisp a manner as possible. Setting aside that we can be our own worst critics from time to time, it did get me thinking: Are there resources out there for someone to practice Dungeon Mastering away from the table?
There are certainly endless articles and videos on how others do things. Some of those are really great (e.g., IMO, Slyflourish.com and Matt Colville's Running the Game among others) but I'm looking for a little bit more than absorbing advice and then trying to play it out in actual games.
Much like musician practices scales and parts of songs/pieces leading up to a performance. Or an athlete does drills and practices plays between games. Or an artist doodles or what not before tackling a final work. Or a salesperson might practice their pitch in front of a mirror or family before calling a client. Or anyone might visualize doing something in their craft before doing it physically.
So, does anyone out there have suggestions or resources that instruct us how to practice Dungeon Master skills between sessions?
EDIT to add: deliberate practice is kinda the concept I'm going for here. What can we, as DMs, do outside of playing our weekly/bi-weekly/monthly sessions to practice?
I practice RP stuff in the car. I try to use voices, display emotions, and mannerisms of upcoming NPCs. I also use this same time to predict what questions PCs might have for them so I can tailor their answers to match their personality - not just relay information. It's here I play around with word choice and describing distinguishing traits or habits. (Side Note: My last practice I was describing two goblins that the PCs might eavesdrop on. One was describing how he has to go poop and the other thought he was going to go look for coin (they raided a place). So they were arguing. I eventually changed poop to naughty word, then to crap, because that was the best word for the setting and these goblins. )
I generally mentally run the combat through my head. I try to predict what the PCs will do, and then decide how the opponents will handle it based on their tactical prowess. Some might always do the wrong thing, where others will head it off at the pass. I also practice manipulating maps quite a bit for this.
Lastly, I do practice time management. This is constant. There are times early on, I would run an entire session by myself to see how long the combat and exploration pillars played out. I would also practice reading any setting pieces I had for the adventure. Now, depending on the system, I am almost always within thirty minutes of the four hours I set for a session. But twenty years ago, eh, not so much.