It All Comes Down to Preparation

I recently read a story about a preacher who got into the pulpit week after week relying on the Holy Spirit to tell him everything he was to say. Sunday after Sunday he would pray, “Lord, give me your message for this morning. What do you have to say to your servant?”

Finally one Sunday he got up and said again, “Lord, give me your message for this morning. What do you have to say to your servant?”

The Lord finally answered him, “You’re not prepared!”

Over the past few months my wife Lanita and I have been working on a dance routine for our instructor’s showcase program. After each lesson, his advice is, “You have to spend time on this routine. You need to go through it in your mind. Watch yourselves on tape.” In essence, he is saying, “You must prepare.”

When I spend time with a client working on a presentation, I stress that preparation is a key to his or her success. You must revise and practice and revise and practice. You may not be able to outsmart your competition, but you can “out-prepare” him or her.

I will sometimes respond to a student who is disappointed in a grade he or she earned on a presentation with this question:  “How much time did you spend in preparation?“ Usually an awkward silence follows as the student struggles with how to answer that question. Too many times the answer is, “I really did not get to spend much time on it until last night.” That usually ends the conversation. We both know preparation would have made a huge difference in the outcome.

In my four decades of working with students and clients, I have found that it is not the person with the highest IQ who is most successful, but rather it is the one who prepared the most.

Steve Boyd
Steve Boyd
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. Steve won the Toastmasters International Speech Contest in 1970 and was chosen Outstanding Professor of the Year at NKU in 1984, among other awards and honors. Since retiring, he volunteers with nonprofits, spends time with family, travels, preaches occasionally, and enjoys reading and writing. Contact Steve at (859) 866-5693 or at

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