How is Public Speaking Like Cooking a Meal?

On Christmas day, my husband prepared a delicious fish dinner. He started with bass made with ginger and scallions,and prepared scallops which were sliced in half and sauteed in a glaze of orange marmalade with lemon and orange zest and ginger. The side dishes were a ratatouille of zucchini and squash, steamed spinach and a medley of mushrooms and onions. After complimenting his cooking he said, "The hardest part is the preparation." How true! It seems like most of us enjoy the fun part of cooking-eating. It's the same with speaking. Most presenters enjoy being in front of an audience but they don't give as much thought or time to planning and preparation. Every chef knows the importance of shopping for the freshest produce. Then they set up the kitchen with the right tools. Once a system is in place, the process of chopping, dicing, and mixing takes place. The chef needs to get the heat just right and test the food to know when it's done. It takes hours and hours of prep time for a 15-30 minute meal.

When it comes to speaking it's 90% preparation and only 10% delivery. Unfortunately, too many presenters wing it. They throw together a few message points on a slide and then stand up and deliver them. They continue from beginning to end without checking in with the audience. That's like putting a high flame under the pan regardless of what is cooking.

When a chef "throws a meal together", it's based on years of practice and principles of cooking. And when a speaker makes speaking look easy, you can bet it's because of preparation and experience. The writer Mark Twain once said, "It takes about two weeks to give a good impromptu speech." If you had company you wouldn't leave your meal to chance. And good presenters don't don't throw their presentations to the wind.

The secret sauce to good cooking and good speaking is this: It's all in the preparation! To learn more about preparing a presentation read chapter six in Knockout Presentations.