The Value of Preparation

I like to wing it. I project a confident exterior and feel comfortable, and actually enjoy, presenting information to a group of people. In the past, I relied on my charm and confidence to be able to work a room even when I was not 100% knowledgeable of the content or hadn’t spent enough time preparing. This worked well for me, to a point. I am finding, though, that I am becoming less and less comfortable with this approach and my confidence lessens and it is showing up in my presentation skills.

This week, I have been participating in some professional development around presentation skills and delivery. There was one slide in a workshop that really stuck out to me. We discussed the differences between “winging it” and rehearsal. “Winging it” lowers the bar on your expectations of the presentation. Since you are not prepared, you have very low expectations of the outcome. Inevitably, you do better than expected and come out of the presentation feeling like a rock star. While feeling you did well, the actual value of the presentation my have fallen a little short with your audience.

Rehearsal and preparation, on the other hand, give you the confidence in the material and delivery and serves your audience better. Even if that time spent rehearsing is only 10 minutes, you will ensure you are able to lower the anxiety of delivery.

I feel people are taking time out of their day to spend time with me. There is an expectation they have in what they will walk away with and I owe it to the audience to be prepared and be on top of my game.

I am now being more intentional in taking the time to prepare and rehearse. No matter the setting, whether it’s a 3 person meeting or a 250 person audience, I am making sure I have time to prepare and rehearse. I set aside time on my calendar to prepare or I wake up a few minutes earlier to review information. I’ll spend time on my commute instead of wasting my data on mindless internet surfing.

I have made a commitment to write more and to find more speaking engagements for this year. I have already booked a few engagements and I am looking forward to it. And I need to be prepared. I have no interest in “winging it” or going through the motions to get the job done. As the saying goes, if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

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