January 29, 2009

Do it right the first time

I've heard several variations on this quote recently:

"If you don't take the time to do it right the first time, when will you have the time to fix it?"

I don't know who said it first, or the exact wording. If you know who said it, please let me know.

This is one of the most profound lessons a speaker can learn. You rarely have a chance to speak to the same audience twice, so if you can't be bothered to spend the time to craft a great presentation, you will not get another chance.

Do you hear me? You have one chance with an audience. You may never be asked back.

And yet I see, time and time again, speakers who throw their presentations together at the last minute, leaving no time for practice, and still expect to be a big hit. Or worse, don't care one way or the other if the presentation is successful or meaningful to the group.

You're probably not a professional speaker. You might not be speaking to promote your business or organization. You might just be the unlucky schmo who gets stuck giving the report in a meeting.

Does this mean you have any less responsibility to do a good job, to do your best? Forget the audience for a moment. Forget the fact that you should be serving them and giving them practical, useful and valuable information.

Think about yourself and your own goals. Do you hope to advance in your career? Do you hope to make more money, get a better job, have the respect of your peers and supervisors?

Well, doing a half-ass job on your presentation isn't going to help you in any of these areas. So now you're letting the audience down, your co-workers, your boss and yourself.

Why not just make the effort to do it right the first time? Give yourself time (unless you truly are asked to speak at the last minute, which I realize is often the case in the workplace), or at least make the most of the time you have in creating something of value to the audience.

Take pride in your work, make the effort. You don't have to try to impress anyone. You just have to do your best to give value and not waste people's time.

You may not get a chance to fix it, so do it right the first time.

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Jeff Bailey said...

Hi Lisa,

It is bad for a traditional presentation but it is much worse for presentations delivered via new technology. They are typically recorded which means no do-over, no mulligans and no take-backsies!

The current focus on slides is a distraction from the real issue. We are the presentation, not the slides. The slides are an aid and not the show. We owe it to our audiences to practice, rehearse and take the time to deliver great content -- effectively.

Unfortunately, doing a half-assed job on a presentation doesn't seem to hurt careers. It should, but it doesn't. The next time you see a terrible presentation (it probably will be sometime this week) watch as people tell the presenter how great a job they did. It is bewildering. It is one of the reasons that folks grossly overestimate their presentation ability.

Wow, I think I am ranting! Time to stop and take a breath.

Thanks for the post!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

It's only fitting that you should rant, since I'm ranting as well. I do believe that some poor communicators get left behind in the workplace, but not all!

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