Maria Tecce Voice and Speech Coach Author

Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail: 

Preparation Is Key For Amazing Presentations


I just got off Zoom with a client who is having a seriously bad day today.  She is wrapped up in feeling panicked and insecure about an upcoming high-stakes presentation.

So. We did a deep dive into what is keeping her from creating amazing presentations.  And it turns out…. She’s afraid of what other people will think of her if she fails. How real is that? 

We’ve ALL felt this fear at some point in our lives and it’s completely natural.  So, how can you cut that fear down to size? Here are 4 things you can do to manage fear, panic, and insecurity and create amazing presentations.

Take Action:  Start With Making A Plan

Sounds simple, right?  Yup.  It is that simple.  But the simplest solutions are often the ones we ignore.  The fear of failing becomes so big in our own thinking that it overshadows the most obvious first step towards creating amazing presentations.

Failing is part of growth and we all miss the mark every now and then. But making a plan helps to short circuit the fear factor because you’re taking action.  Action crushes fear; inaction feeds it.

Once you’ve taken action towards that first step of planning, you can break down your plan into manageable chunks and set you on the road to creating amazing presentations.

Amazing Presentations Need A Full Tool Box

Building up a varied and exciting tool box full of techniques and skills that you can pull out and use for your preparation is key.  Having a plan means having your go-to skills that resonate with you, both vocal presence & physical presence skills and skills to create your content & story. 

For instance, you could have 1. good posture 2. using a varied vocal delivery and 3. eye contact as your go-to skills.  These will be different for each person so get as much training as possible and start stocking your tool kit.

Other skills that are invaluable in creating amazing presentations is how you craft your story and pinpoint who your audience is.  It’s imperative that you know who you’re talking to before your start story-boarding your story.

After you know who your audience is, then you can start sketching out your story, ie. the beginning, middle, and end.  Every good story has three main parts to its structure so be clear about how you’re going to tell your story before you try and tell it.

I’ll know my song well before I start singing.

Bob Dylan

Get Feedback From Someone You Trust (Or Your Phone)

Once you know what you’re going to say and why, it’s time to get feedback from someone you trust.  Don’t just ask anyone; make sure that person is going to be honest.  To help them along, give them very specific things to look for.

For example, if you’re trying to strengthen your use of hands, ask them to watch out for that specifically.  Or if your vocal delivery is getting flat, ask them to zero in on how you’re using the range of your voice.

The clearer you can be on what you’re practicing and what you want your trusted listener to watch out for, the better their feedback will be. And the closer you are to creating an amazing presentation with knock-out delivery and presence.

Alternatively, remember your trusty phone, tablet, or laptop.  These days it’s just a matter of clicking on the camera icon and you’re away in a hackney.  Or schedule a Zoom or Teams meeting on your own, record the session, and then watch it back.  Easy peasy.  Instant feedback.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Amazing presentations means getting feedback that is as specific and targeted as possible.  Tweak and polish, make changes.  Go again.  Get feedback, how did you do?  Tweak and polish, make changes.  Go again.  Repeat.

This is the learning and practicing process.  It’s about consistency and clarity, not just about repeating the same thing over and over.  The more specific you are about what you’re practicing, the more value you’ll gain from your practice.

Again, have a plan when you practice and be specific about what you’re focusing in on.  Clarity is golden so the clearer your plan is when your practice, the faster you will learn, the longer that learning will stay in your body, and the closer you are to delivering an amazing presentation.

Practice is a physical activity and the body learns best and most efficiently when there is physical activity involved.  When your body and voice begin to get into the action and you start speaking your story, your body is creating very strong and indelible memories.  This is the learning process at its most efficacious.

Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail

Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  At the end of the day, having a plan is lowering the chance of you bottling it or just plain blanking during a presentation.

Equally, when you have a plan you’re more likely to strike out on a new endeavour.  Whereas if you don’t have a plan and are just winging it, you’re more likely to give up or not take that first step towards your goal at all.

If you want to develop and deliver amazing presentations then start by making a plan, no matter how simple it is.  It could be as simple at making sure you breathe while you deliver your content.  Great feats begin with small beginnings. Go on. Take the first step and you may surprise yourself.


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