When I was in the 6th grade, our history teacher Mr. Dougherty used to stress the importance of being prepared–for pop quizzes, research papers, or whatever else may have come along. He reasoned, “Prior planning prevents a poor performance.”
As 12 year-olds, we thought it was corny and put it in the back of our minds.
As cliched as Mr. Dougherty’s phrase may have been, it’s entirely true, and I had a chance to put it to the test earlier this week. I was giving a speech at a conference when suddenly, the system that powered my microphone and slides completely gave out.
I was alone on stage and had to immediately determine how I was going to respond.
The easy way out would have been to simply leave the stage until the glitch was fixed, but it didn’t seem like it was an ordinary issue. So, I raised my voice and just kept going as if the slides were still there.
Any professional speaker knows that slides are merely a backdrop to their presentation. If you want to be an effective speaker, you need to know your material–really know your material–so you don’t need any aids. Giving a speech takes more than throwing some slides together; you really need to prepare. And while a power outage is a remote possibility, if you’re properly prepared, you’ll be ready for any challenge that presents itself.
This advice isn’t just for speaking engagements; consider it when you’re putting together a plan for a marketing campaign, a product launch, or any other major initiative. Last week we talked about identifying weaknesses and threats with respect to your strategy. In addition to that, if you prepare accordingly, you’ll be ready for the unexpected, no matter what it may be.
And Mr. Dougherty would be happy about that.
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Prior Planning Prevents a Poor Performance
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