Never underestimate the importance of planning

Never underestimate the importance of planning

On a recent trip to the US, I visited the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock Arkansas.

Spread out over three floors, the library houses all manner of information related to the Clinton Presidential era including a reproduction of President Clinton’s oval office – with replica furniture and artifacts.

Of the many items on display that chronicled the Clinton era was a glass case that housed two pages of one of President Clinton’s State of the Union addresses.

The State of the Union Address is delivered by the President of the United States to Congress at the beginning of each calendar year in office.  It requires meticulous preparation and planning as the speech is delivered live to a joint sitting of Congress and is also broadcast to millions of viewers not only in the US but around the globe.

The content, its delivery and associated nuisances are scrutinised for days or weeks after the event.

The first of the two pages on display detailed nine milestones in the preparation process including development and review of the content along with seven preparations or rehearsal sessions for the President varying in length from 1 hour to a full day.  Such is the importance placed on this speech.

The second of the two pages detailed the framework of the presentation; an introduction; positioning of the address; 4 key points; close and a call to action.

Each element timed to perfection but not scripted to the point of robotics.

Like any politician around the world, the President makes thousands of speeches a year, some less rehearsed than others. 

The thing I took away from reading over the notes was that regardless of who we are or how experienced we are, when we present information to our teams, colleagues or a broader client or consumer market we should NEVER underestimate the importance of planning.

When I work with teams on their PowerPoint presentations, one of the things I regularly hear is how much time they take putting a actual PowerPoint presentation together.

I believe we spend TOO much time on the mechanics of presenting and not enough time rehearsing.  We believe we can “wing” it, and the presentation materials will get our message across.  Reality is the presentation – ie the PowerPoint doesn’t matter if you can’t engage the audience.  It’s the message they take away that matters.

Although you may or may not agree with Clinton’s politics or actions whilst in office, there is no doubt he was (and still continues to be) an engaging and in demand speaker.

So, when you next present to your team, colleagues or customers, give yourself adequate time to prepare (based on the importance of the presentation) and provide your audience with the experience they truly deserve, after all, that’s what true professionals do and aren’t you a true professional at what you do?


Donna Hanson is a professional productivity speaker who works with organisations and their teams to fast track their everyday technology to get them back to selling, servicing or supporting customers.  For more information on how Donna can help, visit or follow Donna on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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