"Preparation, preparation, preparation" - are the three most important points in giving a successful presentation. It is the equivalent of the property world's "location, location, location." But where to do that preparation? That is the question.
In the office with your peers? In the AV theatre? At home to your unimpressed family? How about on a plane, where you shouldn't even be reading sensitive material (Code of Conduct, section 4) in full view of adjacent strangers?
Even the most experienced presenter needs a few runs through to make sure there are no obvious mistakes and that the slides segue smoothly from one thought to the next.
One speaker at a past Aromatics Conference told me that he had gathered together all the staff in his Rotterdam building, not just once but twice, to practise his paper before the big event.
Another aromatics speaker told the audience that he had just thrown the paper together that morning, and I could believe it as he shambled through it.
Once the presentation has been submitted, that is the time to rehearse, but deep in every presenter's heart is the desire to put it off. It is like exam revision. One colleague told me that she had had her speech sitting on her desk for a week, taken it home for the weekend, brought it back to the office, taken it home again, and still hadn't been able to force herself to look at it until a couple of days before the event.
So here I am, sitting on the plane, with a print-out of my slides held together with a bulldog clip sitting on my lap. I would rather be reading "Heidi," which I downloaded (free) onto my Kindle this morning to imbibe a bit of Swiss culture. Unfortunately, every reading of the presentation reveals questions which will need further online research. Luckily, there are three days to go, so there is still plenty of time to knock it into shape.