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Chapter 3: Preparation: The Source of a Speaker's Power

Overview

The will to win is nothing, unless you have the will to prepare.

—Anonymous

Of all the ways to banish fear—and the previous chapter revealed a whole host of them—one stands out: simple, thorough preparation. For the unprepared speaker, the terror is real; it's a feeling all too close to everyone's classic nightmare in which it's exam time and you didn't go to class all term....

But the prepared speaker knows no such terror. He or she realizes preparation is the foundation, the blueprint, for a successful speech. There is an old saying that a speech well prepared is nine-tenths delivered. That's a statistic that really puts fear in its place and leaves you ready to deliver a polished performance.

In one of my past careers, I was a Broadway actress. The first job I got was in Stop the World, I Want to Get Off. The show was in Washington, D.C., in its post-Broadway tour, and I was a replacement for someone who suddenly left the show. I had one week of rehearsal in New York—with no other people, no sets, no props, no costumes—and before I knew what was happening, I was on stage performing, being gently "guided" around by the other actors so I would know where to go. That night was a total blur, and needless to say, I wasn't very good. How could I be, when I had had no time to prepare?

Lack of preparation would make anybody nervous. If I had had more rehearsal, I would still have had butterflies, but they wouldn't have been dancing quite so strenuously.


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