• Kevin Sullivan

The Answer to All Your Questions is Preparation

Legendary television producer Don Ohlmeyer once told then-Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, “The answer to all your questions is money.”


When it comes to doing your best in a presentation or interview, the answer to all your questions is preparation.


Over the years, I’ve worked with plenty of executives who tell me they don’t want to prepare or rehearse too much for fear of appearing scripted and inauthentic. They think they can simply rely on their knowledge of the subject matter. On more than a few occasions I’ve heard, “I’ve got this” when I knew the person wasn’t ready.


As we learned from Matthew McConnaughey in a previous post, only when you are prepared are you free to use your experiences and knowledge. The preparation is the very thing that helps you relax, be your authentic self — and fulfill the purpose behind the interview or presentation.


It’s not about being perfect. It’s about being at your best. Those who wing it tend to ramble, go long, and forget a key point or two. That may be what is authentic for that person in that moment, but it’s not what’s best for their company…and it’s not what’s best for the audience.


Here is a simple roadmap to prepare for almost any communications opportunity:

  • Who is my audience? Your prep should always start there. What is important to them today? Can I help them solve a problem or seize an opportunity?

  • What do I want them to know…and is there a call to action? One shortcut here is to envision the headline or video caption you would like to see and speak to that.

  • Know your “home base” message. Have a firm grasp on the two most essential points you want to make.

  • Anticipate questions. Work with your comms team to understand and prepare for the questions and topics you can expect — both easy and challenging — and prepare for them.

  • Have a story or anecdote ready. This is the best way to make your message relatable, persuasive and memorable.

Before you tell yourself, “I’ve got this,” make sure you spend time preparing. You will perform better, fulfill your purpose and deliver something helpful for the audience.