image by sarahkim, flickr artist

i wrote not too long ago about the keys to an effective presentation. it’s strange how sometimes you don’t listen to your own advice, though, john… seriously.

guilty as charged.

i found myself this week in a situation where i had three briefs to deliver to three different audiences all within the span of a few short hours. it’s hard to ‘get up’ for those kinds of meetings, have a short break in between, and then recapture that tough mental focus again. (oh, and then repeat that once more for the last brief of the day) i was feeling confident, however (i usually do), especially since i was closing it out with the same marketing brief i had given dozens upon dozens of times already. but i should have known better than to take things lightly.

just because a quarterback knows how to play football doesn’t mean he can skip film sessions to prepare for the week ahead. and just because a hockey player knows how to shoot a puck doesn’t mean he can skip off-ice conditioning. you need to be prepared. you need to work hard at being good; it doesn’t just happen.

my first brief — which was luckily the most important since it was with the client and not my own project team — actually went rather well. i hit my major points, i handled questions, and i kept to my time limit. i did, however, prepare for that one. i spent about a day working on my slides and building my story. what was i going to say? how was i going to say it?

my second brief started off a bit like bambi standing on the ice for the first time. i did regain some fluidity in my presentation once the audience began asking some questions, though; overall it was an effective brief. was it the best? certainly not, but i got the job done. i prepared for this presentation as well, but didn’t spend nearly as much time as i should have to storyboard everything and prepare a voice track to go along with it.

then it was time for my last brief, and i was stumbling all over myself. i repeated far too many words and phrases making everything i said seem disjointed, i unintentionally skipped all over my slide bullets with no regard for flow, and even a few times didn’t even remember what slides i had used in the brief. i left that meeting thinking, “wow! could i have done anything else to mess that up even more?”

perhaps if i showed up late… or without any pants on.

knowledge of a topic is no substitute for hard work. if you want to play with the pros, you’re going to have to hit the gym — every day. sit in those film sessions, and ride that stationary bike. you never know when you’re going to have to go into overtime in a game 7, so are you going to rely on your knowledge of shooting free-throws, or are you going to spend 15 minutes in the morning shoot-around knocking down baskets from the stripe?

hopefully i won’t be blogging in response to this lesson any time soon.