Games can be divided into two styles of play:

  1. Strategic: slower moving, requiring preparation e.g. board games and mobile puzzle games. 
  2. Reaction-based e.g. sports, video games.

(I realise that sports and video games can also have strategy and that board games and puzzle games can also have reaction-based gameplay. These are generalisations, so just go with them for now.)    

Risk vs. Reward

These two styles appeal to two personality types:

  1. Cautious. This type of person gathers information before entering any situation with risk, and doesn’t want to ‘get it wrong’. They read the manual first.
  2. Reckless. This type of person enjoys getting in there and improvising just to learn experientially, with no worries about the consequences. They just push all the buttons and see what happens.
Which approach do you think works best for giving a presentation? You’d be right if you said number one, because gathering information and preparing correctly are absolutely essential for giving a great presentation.
The Right Way
However, you’d be even righter* if you said both. And here’s why:
Approach number one is good, but in isolation could lead to inflexibility and a worry about ‘failing’ that undoes your hard work.
Approach two is certainly not recommended, although it could – and it’s pretty unlikely – facilitate the kind of audience interaction that makes for a useful and memorable presentation.
The very best approach is a combination of both:
  1. Gather information, write and rehearse. In other words, Do. Your. Prep.
  2. On the day, adapt to the audience and freestyle where useful, with your structure and preparation as a basis. In other words, Go With the Flow. This is what I did as a stand-up comic, and it really works.
*(Okay, that’s not a real word. But it should be.)