Merge's Blog

If you want to make an impact, prepare and practice first

“How was your fitness class?” I asked my husband as he walked in the door and dropped his gym bag on the floor.

“Frustrating,” came the response.  My eyebrows rose with the unspoken question.

“The instructor decided to introduce some new routines today.  But she clearly hadn’t practiced them herself.  It seemed as if she was formulating them in her mind while she demonstrated them!  So she kept getting confused and missing steps; then she would correct herself as she went along and sometimes start from the beginning and other times pick up where she left off.  It was a mess; all in all, a very confusing and exasperating experience!  If only she’d thought it through and practiced it at least once on her own before she presented it in front of a group of people, it would have been much better.”

Hmm!  My husband’s experience at the gym got me thinking about some of the business presentations I’ve observed over the years.  I have seen very intelligent people unable to communicate their message to others, primarily because they haven’t taken a few minutes to formulate their thoughts and practice what they wanted to say.  Because they are authorities in their areas of expertise, they feel that they can improvise or present off-the-cuff.  Yet what you know is not necessarily linked to how well you can communicate it to others.  There are very few people who are able to successfully cobble together a business presentation “on-the-fly”; the rest of us must put at least some preparation and practice into it.  If you don’t invest at least some time in laying out an outline and practicing key components of what you want to say, you run the risk of confusing and perhaps even annoying your audience, something you definitely don’t want to do if your objective is to persuade and convince.

So, do you agree?  Do you normally invest time in preparing and practicing before you present, or are you one of those lucky people who can “wing it”?


  • Hi Merge,

    Yes, this is such a practical and simple way to make your presentations or even small group discussions go smoother, yet we are probably all guilty of doing this at some point in our careers. I learned a long time ago that there’s no such thing as too much preparation. I don’t go overboard, but I always make sure that I prepare for any type of discussion I have to deliver. Whether it’s a larger formal setting, a small group discussion, team meetings, etc… Whenever there is a message I need to deliver, I make certain that I understand what message(s) I wish to communicate, how I wish to communicate those messages, and also try to anticipate questions and the like. While you can never be 100% prepared, even a small bit of preparation goes a long way.

  • Couldn’t agree with you more Dave. Because I speak professionally, people sometimes think that I don’t prepare and practice – “oh you do it so often, you probably don’t need to practice,” they say. But of course I do. Repeatedly. Everything gets better with preparation and practice!!


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