Black Friday: The power of preparation

Did you wake up at 4am on Black Friday to get a jump on the holiday shopping? You may thing that only a crazy few of us were out there driving in the dark, but you’d be wrong. One CNN report estimates 134 million shoppers were out yesterday, although better stats are expected in the coming days.

For me, standing in line at Target awaiting the 5:00am opening gave me some free time to reflect (since there wasn’t any light to read by) and think about the power of preparation, and how preparing for your next speech could be much like preparing for the onslaught of customers looking for a deal.

First- Make a promise

At Target, they had to decide what to put on sale. This included:
Determining inventory
Anticipating demand (not everyone was waiting in line for a $3.99 copy of Elf)
Chosing their time frames (opening time, length of certain sales, etc.)
Getting the word out – those pervasive sales circulars

For you it’s about determining what your topic will be:
What’s in your inventory?
What does your audience need to hear?
How long do you have to say it?
How will you get an audience to show up?

Second-  Preparation

At Target:
Building set-up – prepositioning expected hot sellers (like the Westinghouse TV that I missed by about 10 spaces in line)
Provided externals – map of the store and some free eco-shopping bags (I was too far back in line, but it was a looong line)
Staff clearly prepared to answer about any sales item…I bet they had to take a quiz or something

You:
Room set-up
Visuals and hand-outs ready to go
Rehearse and internalize your topic – don’t memorize it…know it

Third- Execution

Target:
Open the doors on time (5:00am)
Every checkout stand open (I was out with my purchase by 5:20am)
People pre-positioned throughout the store to answer questions

You:
Stay within your allotted time
Use the stage, not just one sopt
Be able to handle the odd question/unexpected remark with professionalism

Of course, there were some other great examples I saw, such as JC Penny’s (Snow Globe!), Best Buy (love my new netbook) and Wal-Mart. There were also some less-prepared stores, but I won’t mention them by name (one was the place I expected to by my netbook…a whole nother post).

For the speakers out there, these tips aren’t the only things you need to make a great presentation, but they are some things you can think about when getting that next speech off of the ground. After all, Target wasn’t built in a day…right?

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