“You can never be too prepared.” We hear this bit of life advice across all aspects of life and work. In many ways, it’s true. Practice and preparation often lead to better outcomes. When working with people, though, sometimes you actually can be too prepared. Presenting in front of a group, regardless of setting, can be a nerve-wracking experience. We rehearse over and over, ensuring that we have our speech memorized word for word.
It’s this exact kind of granular preparation that is where slipups can happen. If we place our confidence in having every word seared into our brain, we leave no room for going “off-book,” improvising if our mind blanks momentarily, or adapting to questions or comments from your audience.
Next time you are presenting, giving a lesson, or just working with a group of people, try to build your preparation around the concepts you’ll be talking about instead of rote memorization. Don’t be afraid to go wing it. In fact, be prepared to.
For more on fun ways to do this, check out the TED Talk linked below about the U.S. Memory Championship and how it’s full of ordinary people.