You know that cliche – “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail?”


It’s a over-used phrase, and I hate it, but it’s correct. I once heard Chris Anderson (he of TED fame) enlightening a speaker who didn’t succeed in her TED audition that the best TED speakers prepare for up to 200 hours. That’s roughly 10 hours prep for every minute that they present!


Most people I know prepare until they feel comfortable enough wity the slides and their notes – then they step on stage relying on presenter view in PowerPoint to save them. Or several comfort monitors or an autocue.


I worked with Alex Conran yesterday, gorgeous guy from The Real Hustle on TV (and winner of Celebrity Masterchef) and he told me how he used to prepare with a bright spotlight directly in his face.


We shared the best advice we received about presenting, one piece of which was this gem from Tony Robbins,

“Don’t practise until you get it right, practice until you can never get it wrong”.


Wise words.


Because at some point you will get nervous, see a friend in the audience, lose your train of thought or see some attractive person who takes your attention away from your talk (!). If you practice enough, you’ll recover from situations like that quickly. If you didn’t, you can be pretty sure things will not go well from then on.


Ex-US President Wilson Woodrow was once asked, “How long do you need to prepare your speech?“. “It depends...” he replied. “If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.” Woodrow Wilson


Not too long ago I heard Lady Gaga telling an audience of budding singers that she doesn’t practice, she rehearses. Why? Because amateurs practice, professionals rehearse.


I like that.


Anyway – I was looking through an old hard drive and found some behind the scenes photos of some moments where I was “rehearsing” before my keynote.


So if you’re interested….



Communications Designer @IBM • Climate Reality Leader • Lover of Old Business Books, Clever Technology and the NHS • Based in London, UK.

%d bloggers like this: