The Second ‘P’

 Prepare, Prepare, Prepare,

Paltry preparation produces pitiful performance. We have all heard a number of variations of this common saying and still so many people leave their presentation preparation to the last moment.  Speaking in public is no different than anything else, if you want to do it well it is imperative to prepare well and early.

I’ve been very lucky to have chatted with quite a number of top professional speakers and world champion speakers. They tell me a common theme is to always be ready. Have your material prepared well in advance of any possible  – Oh “can you just say a few words?”

I know – that’s so easy to say, they are professionals and paid to be ready, and I got a job.  When you say yes to giving a speech you are saying yes to all the people in your audience that you are prepared to deliver what they expect in the way they expect it or better.

And… even if you are ready to disappoint them, are you ready to disappoint yourself? I certainly wouldn’t be.

OKay Smart Alec.. What Do I Need To Prepare?

Being a professional means being prepared and it shows to those around you especially those paying your fee. Even though you may not use all the points below be aware of those you do need and create your own checklist.  You may have others you specifically need to add. Please comment below so we can help each other in future.

  1. Prepare yourself
    prepare self
    Self prepare

    Get the details, decide how you are to get there, public transport? The time it takes, car? What about parking as well as time? Plane even more details getting to the airport, tickets.  Who is paying?

    Again timing and parking. How are you getting to the venue once landed, is there accommodation  & who’s paying? You need to eat,  have you any special dietary needs? What arrangements are made?

    Is there a contract or agreement to be filled out and signed? Are there certain requirements needed before completion ( Insurance details)?  Are you requiring certain conditions?  What are the terms of payment?

    What is your position on the agenda and level of Importance? How much time are you required to speak for?

    Do you have a signature uniform/outfit? Is it okay to wear, What are the dress requirements?  How do you look? Haircut, jewellery, outfit and all other aspects of your appearance need to be right,

  2. Prepare your own introduction

    Always have a prepared introduction that is relevant to your topic, the audience, the area, the event. Never, Never, Never let others prepare this information it is so crucial for you to make sure you lead the audience into your talk and you.

    Often they ask for a bio for the event program, again make this specific to the audience, the event, you and your future bookings and further subjects you can be booked for.

    Both these items are very valuable marketing documents to promote you and your business.

    Give them extra material in the form of an infomercial ( a human story, a case study, contact information, a special offer just for them) for the programme as well, often they are looking for material to fill the booklet. Better you than someone else.

    Let the event organisers know you will be available before and after the event to answer questions. Make yourself available for some extra activity if needed, they will be impressed and may not use you but will remember how accommodating you were.

  3. Prepare your research

    Generally, you know your topic so how does that relate to your audience? Who can answer your questions?

    prepare your Research
    Prepare with research

    Can you have the names of several attendees so you can ask questions?

    What are the demographics, age, interests, sex, religion, commonalities, income – whatever is relevant to your topic and your future topics.

    Discover the current trends with that group? what is the latest news,? what is the local jargon?

    What is a delicate issue to avoid or any other areas to avoid?

  4. Prepare your material

    Do I have to say it again?  Your Purpose is the focal point, the starting point of your presentation,  if you haven’t looked at that, go there right now and discover speech purpose then come back here to continue

    It doesn’t matter if you have a bookshelf full of relevant stories or a single story to tell over and over,  you must be fresh and you can only be fresh if you are continually finding new ideas, finding new innovation, continually learning how to be better at what you do.

    When we don’t reinvent ourselves each time, we are standing still and since the world continues to move and change, standing still means we are going backwards. The best way to know what you have done so you can improve is to record yourself every time you give a presentation.

    Prepare your purpose

    > focus on your ideas > eliminate anything that doesn’t fit> tweak the material you are going to talk about.  If and a big IF you decide to have slides to complement your delivery then you can decide on the graphics that support what you have to say.  Have a few blank slides so their attention is drawn back to your presentation.

    If you are in a situation where you need to have data to prove your arguments or persuasions then you will need to produce a complimentary set of documents to support your findings. Always give the handouts at the end of your delivery, you don’t want people ( particularly the analytical ones) trying to prove you wrong with your own data whilst you are delivering your talk and competing for their attention.

    Deal with the elephant in the room – there will be those with objections or arguments in the room and the best way is to have analysed your information and predict their objections. Deal with these your way within your talk offering your solid reasonings before they can object.

  5. Prepare your venue

    Sometimes you are organising the event yourself for yourself. Please get an event organiser.

    prepare Venue
    Venue image

    Still, you will need to know the rudimentariness.  bookings and the contract, access, exits, facilities, first aid, lighting, heating and cooling, seating, catering, available equipment, owners preferences.

    Most times you will be the guest so it is a little easier however you will still need to have early access to understand and know the operations of most of the above.

  6. As well as noise levels from outside, distractions from outside, change room, storage of your gear, area for your product sales, use of equipment (a/v, whiteboard, butchers paper and easel), regulations for incident management and familiarity of speaking area and layout.
  7. Prepare performance

    It is the big day.  You have your presentation ready and everything is organised, you are looking smart and you are feeling ‘Hot’.
    You arrive at the venue early. Giving you time to double check your sound settings on the mic to make sure you are heard by everyone.  Plus test your material on the computer and the projector to make sure all is still working.
    Have your computer plugged into the power. Check your back up slideshow just in case.
    With video, recordings make sure the camera can see you in all the areas you will be speaking.  Determine how you can get a copy for your analysis and promotion.
    When no recordings, set up your phone with an audio recorder so you have a recording of your talk. You cannot measure and improve if you can’t go through every word and gesture you gave.
    Workout the speaking area while visualising your powerful popular successful presentation

  8. prepare sales material for sale

    Are you selling a product? Have you explicit permission to sell?

    What are their arrangements? Can you bluntly sell from the stage or are you expected to subtly make an offer at the end of your talk directing your audience to the sales table at the back of the room? Tell them the price.

  9. You have finished another successful presentation and have that wonderful feeling of relief mellowing through your body.
  10. But you haven’t finished yet, time to be gracious press the flesh, shaking hands with your audience, accepting compliments with grace listening for a possible hint of a future booking opportunity.

In Summary

Proper Prior Preparation Produces Powerful Presentations.  Typical of all items you undertake if you are prepared to dig in and discover, you will find a world of workings to learn and use to help you become a better professional.

Steve Jobs of Apple fame was an amazing presenter who was constantly preparing and being ready for a presentation.  To be the best we can be is up to us.  Never has there been a better time with so many resources available.


For more information or Courses check out – Speech Master Academy

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Article by Terry

Over the years Terry has learned to be a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Keynote Speaker, Presenter, Teacher, Coach, Mentor, Business Owner/Manager, Trainer, Facilitator, Teacher, Sailor, Dancer, Worker, Gardener, Reader, Music Lover and someone who thoroughly enjoys helping people to become better. We are all evolving by learning all the time, how and what we choose to learn makes us who we become. The key to Terrys passionate and enthusiastic approach is savouring the experience of contributing to the growth, action and enjoyment of the individual with their career.


  1. Hi Terry

    It’s clear from this that you’ve done a lot of public speaking and know a lot about it! I’ve done some, and have had those times when I’ve gone in unprepared (even when I had plenty of time – just thought I could be clever enough to breeze through it) and it didn’t work so well. I’ve realised that the audience needs to be honoured with a presentation that makes every word count, so they can get the very best out of the experience. Thanks for your very helpful information!

    1. Thank you Shivanii,
      I appreciate you giving such positive feedback. I look at it like any business the level you want to succeed is in direct relation to the depth of understanding and the effort applied. Public speaking is another profession and making what and how you speak to your audience is very relevant. Happy to share with you.

  2. Hi Terry
    I have just bookmarked this site after reading the First P and then when I came back to this page I continued to be bowled over with the wealth of information you have shared that have already made me start to rethink my preparation for public speaking.. in particular your reference to being so prepared you even think about the questions and the objections your audience may have.
    Thank you – awesome site!


    1. Thank you for returning Dawn,

      That is exciting you are interested and can benefit from my ramblings. Given time and practice you could be on stage with me.


  3. Hi Terry!
    I admire anyone who can get in front of an audience of people and give a moving speech.
    I truly do, because I would be absolutely petrified to stand up and speak to a group of people!
    However it’s interesting to learn what goes into a public speaking event, and you have brought up some items I never would have thought of. Thanks for a great article!


    1. Thanks Marant,

      I am sure if you wanted to you would also be a great speaker. We all have our favourite things to do and thankfully they are all different. I still get nervous before speaking however I have learnt how to channel my focus and wash off that nervous energy. Thank you for your comments

  4. I’ve been trained in public speaking since I was like 4. I’m not joking. I’m so used to it now that I frequently do a lot of public speaking at the last minute, without much preparation time.

    That’s actually not good. In a pinch it’s great but once people realized I could do it without preparing I started filling in for others who would cancel at the last minute. It put me in a mode where I have to force myself to prepare my own parts ahead of time. Otherwise I’ll just do it last minute like I’m used to doing.

    Take a few days to prepare. Don’t do anything at the last minute, even if you can.

    1. Thank you Kinya,
      You are so wise to realise you have developed a great strength but could easily turn it into a weakness without care and preparation for future presentations. That is a amazing sense of awareness you have. Such sensible advice from someone so experienced and wise must be acknowledged. Thank you.

  5. I agree with you. Preparation could spell success or failure. Rumour has it that Steve Jobs, hailed as one of the greatest speakers of our time was in a consistent preparation mode for days before any public speaking gig (that is probably why he was so good and his speeches were so impactful). I hope you will write some great detailed posts on preparation and how to go about it. Even though I don’t do much public speaking, I find that preparation cuts across the board. For example, all the above tips apply to me in my business setting when I have to make a marketing presentation.
    Thank you Terry. Your website goes on my bookmark bar.

    1. You are a star Wachira, You reminded me about Steve jobs, he is one of my heroes in speaking. A true inspiration. So true about his preparation it went on for months before a launch. Yes I plan on quite a comprehensive analysis of preparation. Funny all the aspects of a speaking gig can be related to almost any business because the principals are all the same.
      Thank you for your comment and add to your bookmark.

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