Preparation Can Save Your Life
There are many times when I get on set, sit in a meeting, discuss legal, create new ideas, rehash old ones and there are people involved who come unprepared for the task at hand. Always forgetting something or having technical issues, some are understandable but to continue in that habit is truly fatal to you professionally, in fact, it’s fatal to you personally as well.
Too often people hope that saying sorry will restore their professionalism, the sad truth is, it won’t. If you don’t come ready to execute flawlessly you will continually find yourself flailing in incompetency. And that, that hurts you extraordinarily.
Now that being said, I’m definitely not a beacon of exemplary behavior concerning preparation excellence, however, I have found a few ways to truly help you.
Plan, Plan, Plan
There is no substitute for planning, this may seem to be synonymous with the obvious but if you want to execute flawlessly you must map it out. Plan what you need to do or bring with you, kind of like preparing to become successful. Seems simplistic but really understanding your goals enables you to have a path to success.
Write It Down
Whether it’s on a napkin, day planner, mobile phone, your hand, or your computer it is important to make it official. As you write things down to help you map your goals you will make progress towards completing them. By writing it down you make a small step that will help propel you forward. This is important because it is the small things that help build steam and momentum and will eventually keep the ball rolling.
If you are having a meeting or pitching someone you should run through what you want to say. Think of questions that will most likely be asked to you and create responses and rehearse them and know them well. I’m not saying you should write a speech but you might want to think about it if you are not a good speaker. Whenever I step into a meeting I’ve probably walked through 5-10 different scenarios, rabbit trails included. This will help you stay in the conversation without trying to think of an answer, which makes you appear more confident and educated. Even if different questions are hurled at you, directing the question back to safe territory should be easy for you.
Get It Together
If you need to bring materials to your meeting, make sure you have them, if you need to print them make sure they look nice. Nothing like getting a document from someone who expects to get a deal and it was printed on their ink jet printer with the ink running out. Seriously, run to Kinkos or something. Bind it if you have to! I’ve got a contract signed partly because they said I had my stuff together, the pitch was right, the materials looked professional. It wasn’t because I’m amazing, it is because I was prepared for the meeting.
Bring It Together
If you prepare properly you’ll increase your chances of succeeding at any meeting. Many people think that very successful people have some mysterious trick to what they do. Now, I’m not saying they aren’t talented because they are. But they land more deals and have more successful meetings because they come prepared consistently. You’ll begin to see how much being prepared helps you feel confident about your meetings, there is relatively nothing that can go wrong. And when you hit a bump it will be understandable because the remaining 95% of what you did is spot on. Don’t be afraid to fail but don’t force yourself to fail by being ill prepared.
What do you think?