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Speaking success depends on solid preparation. That’s a no-brainer. Former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Guiliani, once said, “No one, no matter how gifted can perform without preparation.”

Most of us have had speaking opportunities where we fly by the seat of our pants. Caught unaware and unprepared, we muddle our way through an impromptu speaking moment. And, once seated think how much better it would have been if only we had been able to prepare a few words in advance.

Few would argue that a person’s success depends on solid preparation. All of us would raise our hands and swear we do we do just that. But, what does solid preparation really mean?

A number of years ago I read an interview in a Vancouver business magazine.  Professional speaker, consultant and author Cheryl Cran said she prepares not only for her presentations to go well, but also prepares for all the things that could go wrong. What a concept!

Most of us, when we think about preparing a speech or presentation, think content. We spend an enormous amount of time on massaging the information we have. We also give lots of thought to our message and how we will deliver what we want to say to our audience in the most engaging manner.

However, well prepared presenters go beyond having their message well-crafted and ready to deliver. Yes, they prepare for the expected, the size of the audience, the room layout, the seating, the electronics and technology and so on, but they also prepare for the unexpected.

They ready themselves in advance for things that could go wrong: sudden noises, equipment failures, shortened speaking time, or a program change. With any disruption, a well prepared presenter remains emotionally and mentally grounded and is able to convey that sense of confidence and security to the audience.

Polished presenters know that speaking success depends on solid preparation…and that starts long before they enter the room and walk to centre stage.