Preparation

How do you prepare for an event that you will lead?  I think about this process all the time, and every time I lead any event.  Every Friday, when I lead Pitch Practice, I prepare to welcome newcomers and give them an overview of why we’re here and what we do, and then to help any and all who attend with the intent of improving their pitch.  Today, I’m preparing to teach “Blogging for your Brand”, put on by General Assembly.

How will I prepare?  That’s a loaded question; however, I still go about it generally the same way I went about preparing for tests and exams in college.  Here’s how I studied and prepped in college.

  • Always attend class. Woody Allen’s famous words are applicable here: “80% of success is just showing up.”  My Economics professor prepared us for the “real world” by telling us to “get ready for the world of all 8AM classes and no cuts.” You don’t cut class in the real world.
  • Take copious notes. I wrote down every single word the professor said. Everything. My hand would cramp several times in each class. No, we didn’t have iPads or laptops when I was in college. #oldschool  It’s been proven that writing something down is the equivalent of reading it seven (7) times.
  • The same day, rewrite your notes.  My fresh, first run notes from the class looked like chicken scratch and would be gibberish to anyone else. When I rewrote my notes, they’d be neat and understandable.
  • Read the re-written notes once a week until text/exam time. Reading them a little at a time cements them into my brain, and doesn’t take nearly as long nor is it as painful as cramming the night before.
  • The day before the exam, I read my notes 3 times all the way through.  This part of the process would take a while, since I would average 3+ pages of notes per class session, but it would be the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th time I had read the notes, so it really became more of a “skim” than a hard read.
  • Relax. There were many times that I would take a nap during the class period before an exam. I always preferred to go into a test or exam with a completely clear head, rather than cramming and stressing at the last minute.

How does this relate to preparing to lead tonight’s class? Almost exactly, except that I’m the instructor! I spent approximately 4-5 hours creating the slide deck, then about 2 hours revising it. Again, I don’t do this all in one session, but rather over the course of a few weeks. Once I’ve decided that I like the deck, I’ll read through it once or twice each day in the week prior to the class. Today, since the class is tonight, I’ll review the deck twice more, making final notes for real world examples, humorous back stories, questions for the audience, etc.

Then I’ll relax, and not really think about it again.  How do you prepare for big events?

What do you think about that?

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