199: 3 Ways to Protect Your Presentation Prep Time
People ask me all the time:
How long should it take to prep for this big talk?
My answer is typically: More than you think.
With incredibly busy lives, juggling way more than one thing at a time - prepping for our talks often gets squeezed. Add onto that the mental and emotional challenge of developing a talk… well, avoidance and procrastination can take on a life of its own.
I get it! It’s not easy to create space when the more seemingly urgent can easily jump to the front of the line. But often the last few days and hours and moments before a talk, we are then faced with that moment of regret…
I wish I would have taken more time for this. I wish I would have practiced this more. I wish I knew this better. I wish….
No more wishing!
It’s 2019 - let’s do things differently this year.
So - here are three things you can do differently this year to protect your presentation prep time more:
#1: Start by setting the big picture DEADLINES far in advance.
If you’re starting from scratch and this is not the only thing you’re doing in your life (hahaha! <——can’t even fathom that) - plan for at least 8 weeks, and ideally 12. I know that sounds ridiculous, but you want to give yourself time to move through the process. You can of course do it in MUCH less time, if you have some of the content already, if you are adapting something that’s already done, if you have lots of experience and if you MUST and you can lower your expectations (sometimes that’s just the way it has to go).
But keep these general ideas in mind
- Content development is ideally “done" four weeks out… but please note: “done” is really 80% done. (Oh, and it’s never “done.” ) :)
- Delivery development - start at four weeks out.
- Slides done one week out
- Make time for a dress rehearsal. Wear your shoes, and plan for how you’ll wear a microphone.
#2 Create your own URGENCY.
Blocking off time on your calendar doesn’t work for me. It just doesn’t. I will negotiate it away until I feel the sense of urgency. So - you have to create the urgency. Here are two things that help:
chunk it out - When I approach producing big events, the only way it feels doable is to chunk it out. I have deadlines on my calendar for MONTHS, and taking baby steps towards the end goal helps it happen, ensures I don’t miss anything because I have plenty of tim to foresee issues, and the whole process is much smoother.
Hire a coach/accountability partner/ask a friend. Find someone to walk with you on the path so you can’t cancel the meeting or deadline without someone else knowing about it. Sometimes an online course can offer you a guide or map. Often I get hired just to help people ACTUALLY DO IT, and not get to the big moment and feel like they haven’t given it their all.
#3. Ease the process with a DRAFT MENTALITY.
Creativity often doesn’t work on a timeline or pay attention to deadlines. But if you can just produce something that is ‘good enough’ - and keep riffing and evolving on your work at each attempt - you will find at the end that you’ve made huge progress.
Sometimes the idea of creating something so big can get in the way of doing anything. But if you can embrace the idea that even a little bit of improvement will help get you there in the long haul, it helps take the pressure off and is more likely that we won’t hold off on working on our stuff.