By: Beth Kneisler, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Ever since we were children, we’ve learned the importance of practicing. Whether it was getting ready for a music lesson, a big game or even our drivers license, without practice, we would not have done as well as we had hoped. Even though we may not have to get ready for these types of activities anymore, as adults we have presentations, demonstrations, meetings, conferences and media interviews to prepare for. And, while we often take the time to prepare a PowerPoint presentation or write out talking points, all too often, practicing the actual speech or doing a run-through of the presentation gets overlooked.

You assume that because you’re talking about something related to your profession, the words will just come to you or if questions are asked you’ll know all the answers. More often than not, something unexpected happens and because time wasn’t taken to troubleshoot potential snags, you find yourself in front of a group of people looking unprepared.

This exact thing happened recently to none other than Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs. During a conference to unveil the next-generation iPhone, Jobs was touting its more than 100 new features, such as video calling over Wi-Fi networks. As he began demonstrating the new iPhone’s display, he found himself struggling as he realized he couldn’t get web access. He asked the audience to help him out by shutting down their Wi-Fi and he was then able to gain access to the Internet. Despite the rest of the unveiling going smoothly, as a PR person I still found myself asking, “Doesn’t Apple care enough about their brand and image to take a few minutes to practice the actual demonstration?”

Luckily for Apple, the problem was quickly resolved, but can you imagine if Jobs was unable to get any web access? Even despite the many Apple fans out there, I think it’s safe to say that there would be people doubting not only their products but their overall image and brand as well.

No matter how seasoned you may be in your career, you can never outgrow practicing. Even if video can be edited to “erase” your blunder, the people who watched your mistake won’t forget. Remember, your company’s brand and image is everything and you don’t want to be the one putting that in jeopardy.

Have you ever witnessed an unpracticed presentation? Maybe you learned the importance of practicing the hard way? I’d love to hear your lessons learned!