Power of prep

In three back-to-back days, I had an impact on the participant experience at three ‘events’ with high visibility. I was delivering content to 25 or more people. I was responsible for the outcome of their time investment.

If you add up the time of the people participating, this was an expensive investment for the company.

The first one went really well. I was face-to-face with a room full of senior leaders for over three hours. Despite the fact that in-the-moment agenda changes meant I had to adjust my content from 2 hours to 1, I improvised and the group was engaged.

The second, I decided to ‘wing’ and gave a less than stellar performance. I under-anticipated the need to prepare, as this was a video shoot where I only had to answer a few questions about my career development. Yet, in the moment, I felt vulnerable and exposed, and my responses were either too wordy and convoluted or too short and terse.

The third, I was a bit shaken. For some reason, I had some nerves as I hosted a remote meeting to lay out the structure of an internal employee network. It didn’t help that I had technical difficulties, the room I needed to be in was occupied due to a misunderstanding, and … I simply hadn’t rehearsed the delivery of the narrative.

I’ve been paying attention to preparation lately.

I’ve been watching leaders and noticed the difference in my own experience.

The newer the challenge, the more important to step away from the ‘busy’ and prepare for the easy path…what will happen, how it will go, what to say…when everything goes right.

It’s equally, if not more important, to prepare for the hard path. What to do if time is shortened, if I become aware that the self-sabotaging soundtrack is playing too loud, you know…when everything goes wrong.

This week I realized a few lessons in the power of prep:

  • There is a lot more ‘preparation’ and ‘practice’ than one might expect in order to create the appearance of ‘confident’ and ‘capable’
  • Preparation and practice are activities that must supersede the busy Inbox and calendar of meetings
  • Mentally craft the ‘unhappy’ path scenarios and have a plan — including visualizing how you want to show up, feel, and have others feel…when things go awry

The pros – the rock stars, actors, and dancers – who have chosen to create experiences people will pay to see for a living realize that reputations are made and lost in a single performance.

That’s not too different from the corporate world.

Practice and preparation are not add-ons. They are part of the job.



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