Hope Is Not A Strategy

Hope is crucial for each and every person.

If you have no hope, you don’t have aspiration for a better tomorrow. No hope equates to helplessness.

However, hope is not a strategy in any situation.

This is especially true as you approach preparation for communication through presentation. If the following thoughts ever go through your mind as you prepare to take the stage, I’m going to dash your hopes:

  • “I hope people will pay attention.”
  • “I hope the technology works.”
  • “I hope I don’t forget anything.”
  • “I hope, I hope, I hope…”

Those hope statements are red flags that you are not prepared to be the best version of you as a presenter. The moment you catch yourself hoping you are ready, stop and create a strategy.

Turning hope into strategy may be as simple as turning the hopeful statements into strategy questions.

For example (using the hope statements from above):

  • “What will I do to help people pay attention?”
  • “How can I gain confidence and comfort in using the technology?”
  • “Where can I place reminders of important points?”

Now, out of those strategy questions, develop tactics.

Here’s a sample checklist based on the above evolution of hope statements to strategy questions:

  • I will find ways to be physically closer to the audience while speaking (i.e., I won’t stand behind a lectern, I’ll walk out into the audience when appropriate, I’ll position myself closer to the center of a large board room table, etc.)
  • I’ll be sure to be conversational as I speak, avoiding reading.
  • I’ll change vocal pacing, volume and inflection to help people pay attention.
  • I’ll conduct a microphone check before the audience arrives.
  • I’ll use a remote and practice running through the slides on the computer.
  • I’ll have the presentation in the cloud, on a thumb drive and a CD.
  • I’ll check to be sure the computer connects to the projector with no issues at least 60-minutes before the presentation.
  • I’ll be sure I can give the presentation if there’s a technology malfunction.
  • I’ll write on an index card, a small piece of paper or create other reminders of key points.

Turning an “I hope…” into a strategic question with a tactical checklist gives you the confidence to take the stage and present effectively.

This applies whether you're making a one-to-one sales call, speaking up at a company meeting, talking at a board meeting, or presenting to a large audience.

Dale Dixon