Before your talk: plan properly. On the day itself: go with whatever happens.

Great quote from Mike Tyson: ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’

Eisenhower: ‘I have always found planning to be essential, but plans to be useless.’

And another military quote: ‘A plan never survives first contact with the enemy.’

So, here’s the lesson: when you’re getting ready for your next talk or whatever it may be, prepare thoroughly. Have everything ready: printouts, all the materials you might need. Make sure you’ve got your tea and coffee and lighting and all the technical specs all set up, all the equipment’s correct.

But then on the day, go with the flow. Unexpected things will happen: people will come in late, you will feel odd about something, there’ll be a loud noise outside, but you’ve got to go with it.

Now, not preparing at all and just being fluid and going with the flow the whole time, that’s not going to work. That’s going to come across as chaos. What we want to see is that you’re ready, you’ve prepared, but you’re not forcing yourself to follow this perfectly prescribed sequence of events, which if any part of it is broken or doesn’t happen the whole thing falls apart like a house of cards. That’s not what we want. We want to see that you can adapt.

So, prepare everything that you think you might need. But then on the day, go with it, go with the flow. That’s how you prepare.

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