6 Tips to Reload Your Internal Database


Backstage before a concert, you will find the professional musicians rehearsing the well-known numbers they are about to perform for the umpteenth time. They are doing this so their muscle coordination, mental acuity and comfort with the piece are all in place. This allows them to perform with confidence, and to never have to search for a lyric or chord while on stage.

What do you do ‘backstage’ just before a speech or seminar?

One of the things I’ve seen my most respected colleagues do is “Reload the Database” just before their performance. Unlike musicians, speaker rehearsals include a great deal of more unfamiliar material. I’ve adopted the habit of over-preparing for each speech, and it has served me well.

Here’s how it works:

  1. On the way to the engagement. Re-read all of the client’s materials: brochures, annual reports, product descriptions, etc. Thoroughly explore their website, every page and link that you can access. See more than their own people have seen. Think about the implications and look for ways they could make it better. Re-read all of your notes from earlier discussions with them. Not just the latest ones. Go back to the first contact notes, too. Start at the beginning and bring yourself up-to-date. You may be thinking this is a waste of time because you already know these things. I disagree. You see, knowing something deep in your mind and having something in the forefront of your consciousness are two entirely different things. You want to “get the information out of your files and onto your desktop,” so to speak. This can only be done by reviewing it one more time.
  2. Upon arrival at the venue. Go to the meeting rooms where the event will be held. See the setting. Think about the process of finding the room, and getting there from the lobby, guest rooms, parking, etc. Review the entire experience they will have as your audience member. Read the display schedules in the hotel showing of when and where the meetings are. Look at the other conventions being held there. Think about potential overlaps or conflicts. What if their Dixieland Band is performing, on the other side of a movable wall, during the awards banquet your group is holding right next door? Again, you may think this is unnecessary because you’ll be up early tomorrow and you can just check it then. But if there is a serious conflict, you may still be able to correct it now because tomorrow might be too late.
  3. When you retire. After contacting your client and retiring for the day, assure that you still have plenty of time to relax and reload your database once more. This review is different from the earlier ones. Now you know what the room looks and feels like. You’ve recently reviewed all your notes. You have actually spoken with your client on-site, and you have new information in mind. So now when you look over your notes and think about what you’re going to say, you are also more acutely aware of how and why the audience will be able to relate to it and apply it. Let the last thoughts in your mind be the purpose and value of your message to this audience.
  4. Upon arising. First thing in the morning as you have breakfast alone. Yes, I said alone. Whenever possible, keep this time for yourself. And over breakfast, go over your presentation one last time. Feel the flow of your thoughts; see how and why the audience should care about hearing your message. Review any items that may need one last look: key words they use, product names, people’s names, etc. Look through their convention brochure and read the list of attendees, the other presenter’s descriptions, and the details about the social events. Load your mind’s desktop with all the current information that might be useful in your presentation.This morning review will allow you to comfortably do ad-libs or make comments that show that you truly understand who they are and where you are.
  5. In the meeting room. Keep the process going. Notice all that you can. Greet people and really take interest in them. Be accessible and aware. Listen to the other speakers and take notes. Look for humor items you can use. Capture pithy quotes from their own speakers. Use the exact words that they did. Then as you sit or stand awaiting your introduction, relax. Move your legs easily; relax your torso. See the path from where you are to where you’ll be speaking. Note any cords or obstacles. Clear your mind of concerns, and focus on your desire to be of value to this audience. Personally, I say a prayer asking to be of great value to them.
  6. When you are introduced. Smile, even if nobody can see you. Smile and walk confidently and happily to the stage. Greet your introducer with a handshake or nod, thank them and then turn toward the audience. Now…let it flow! You are ready. You couldn’t be more ready. You are loaded for bear! Give them all the value you’ve got.
Jim Cathcart

Jim Cathcart

CEO & President at Cathcart Institute, Inc.
Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, is the original author of “Relationship Selling,” and 15 other business books. He is past president of NSA and recipient of our industry's top awards.
Jim Cathcart
Jim Cathcart
Jim Cathcart
Jim Cathcart

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