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The power of preparing

There is power in preparing.

Hundreds of years before Socrates and Aristotle and a thousand before Cicero and Quintillian, another sage wrote, “There is more hope for a fool, than for someone who is hasty in their words.”*

Three millennia later, we still do not perform at our best without contextual preparation.

Today, news travels so fast, preparation can be urgent and important. Most people seem to understand this, but it’s easy to under- and over-estimate the needed effort.

At a minimum, preparation is thinking first. About audience, occasion and aim.

The next level puts it in writing. For brief engagements, a few jotted points, in your own shorthand. Not a script. Structured for memorability and clarity.

After drafting comes compressing and self-editing to clarify and confirm claims, facts, sources. And what about predicting predictable questions, with appropriate responses?

Many still use the Five Canons of Rhetoric – invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery – as a preparation template. There are also others.

And we haven’t even touched room management, visuals or event management.

Many people would like to perform well, but only some put in the necessary preparation. Preparing well is akin to being ready.

Effective preparation and practice are useful, learned, contextual skills. Practice improves practice. Experience can lessen its demands, but not its value.