Preparation vs. Perspiration


To quote Honest Abe,
“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.”

In a world that moves so much faster than it did 10, five, two years ago, we seldom put aside the time to get sufficiently organized before undertaking a project or a task. In the culinary world, this set­up routine is called “mise en place” or “put in place”. There are multitudes of people working primarily because they are adept in the arena of food “prep”.

Get the materials (or information) you need, put them in a manageable order, within reach, and like a high jumper visualizing the run­up to a leap, walk through the steps in your head…over and over and over again.

Yep, this takes time and patience and a tolerance for repetition, but the pay­off is of crucial importance. I relate this whole blog to the issue of presentations­­the dreaded monster, public speaking!

There are three targetable steps in giving an effective presentation.

1. Have a clearly defined purpose

What do you want your audience to do, think, feel, know once you are finished talking? Know the answer to that. If you’re telling a ghost story, you want your audience to display signs of fear (taking a deep breath, because they’ve been holding in the anxiety as you’ve woven that web of dread and terror). Or you want them to implement a more efficient marketing plan to target millennials.

2. Present a high degree of credibility

Know your stuff! Plain and simple. Do the requisite research, have data with impact and resonance, and sound confident in your delivery. This is where the prep comes in. If you don’t know the presentation inside and out, two things can be lost. First, your sense of self-­confidence; ­­this diminishes because you’re worried about leaving something out. Second, your ability to improvise­­…

­ little known fact…improvisors are some of the most rehearsed artists out there, because they have to anticipate ALL possibilities, not just what’s in the established script.

…if you’re not sufficiently prepared, if something does go awry, you’re more likely to be thrown by it, rather than being able to adjust and adapt.

There may be a concern that over­preparation may make something sound stilted and robotic. I believe the opposite is true…make it muscle memory and truly ingrain the necessary information–­­the key points will stick. If you misplace a modifier or stumble over a word or two, no big deal, because the essence is so embedded that you’ll have easy access to the objective of your presentation, rather than just the order of the words.

3. Know when to stop talking.


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