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#957: The Dry Run

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, January 05, 2009
As experienced a consultant as I am, I am occasionally surprised at how often I have to "relearn" things I used to do but had let lapse. That's one reason I like your Tips. One practice I have gotten back into is doing dry runs for client briefings. I highly recommend them.

It's hard to disagree with either point: that we constantly need to be on the lookout for practices we have forgotten or let get stale, and that practice is a good idea. Both points are tied to a commitment to life-long learning. It is easy for some of us to feel so busy that we don't have time for these critical practices. But it only takes one time being not as prepared as we thought we were to make us realize that we need to keep dry runs on our client briefing checklist (and, if you don't have a list of items to make sure you have or do before each client briefing, you should).

The dry run serves three purposes. First, it is a check on timing of a presentation. You'd rather not realize an hour into your two-hour presentation that you are only one-fourth done. Second, you'll always want to practice under conditions similar to those you will experience during the actual event. Having to project in an auditorium or move around a training room is a different experience than a read through at your desk. Third, having it recorded means you can listen to see how it sounds, albeit not entirely objectively. Even better is doing your dry run in front of another person who will provide constructive feedback.

Tip: The origin of the concept of a "dry run" was to simulate what would actually take place in a critical event, but under controlled test conditions, used first for trial runs of fire departments (without water in the hoses, hence "dry"). Plan to give your presentation, training, briefing or speech in an environment as similar to the one you will be speaking at as possible. Plan the scope, sequence and content to adhere to the client's needs and have a colleague or two critique it. As much as you think you know the material, you can't be sure until you do a dry run.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client service  planning  practice management  process 

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