At some point in our careers, we may come to the realization that we either know enough or have sufficient confidence to “wing it.” This could be related to a presentation, client meeting, or candidate interview where little to no preparation is required to actually make it through without failing. While some may find this approach invigorating or even necessary due to time constraints, my advice is to always find, or make, the time to prepare.
When you set aside time to prepare for an interaction, presentation, or meeting, the outcome is often richer and more impactful. Think about the stakeholders involved. What are their goals? What do you hope to accomplish? Considering these questions; reflecting on your message, delivery, and body language; and potentially preparing backup slides or follow-up materials ahead of time can help ensure success. Consider objections you might face when working towards your goal and plan out how you would address them. This level of preparation doesn’t mean that you’ll have all the answers, but it does mean you’ll have more mental space to deal with the unknowns you encounter. Importantly, seasoned leaders and new leaders alike can benefit from this approach. As leaders, agility is absolutely a strength, but preparation ensures you’ll have a solid foundation to jump from in the event you need to pivot.
Natalie LaFranzo has grown her career commercializing and supporting next-generation sequencing assays for applications in industries including medicine, agriculture, biofuels, and more. She is currently the director of business and market development at Personalis, where she supports the translation of genomic technologies into clinical practice. Prior to joining Personalis, Natalie was the vice president of market development at Cofactor Genomics, an RNA diagnostics company.
Natalie is an active volunteer with the American Chemical Society (ACS), currently serving in a number of volunteer roles including as an ACS Career Consultant. As a younger chemist with a non-academic career path, Natalie is passionate about helping ACS evolve to reflect the changing face of chemistry, and create an inclusive environment where all feel welcome. Earlier this year, Natalie was elected to the ACS Board of Directors as a Member-At-Large.
Natalie received a BS in chemistry from Bradley University, and a PhD in chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.