For many years, I have always advised / suggested / pushed my team to “get your ducks in a row” with whatever they are doing. It can mean many things depending on context, but this is generally what I have always meant:

1. KYA: Know Your Audience

Understand who you are talking to in order to understand what they want to see / hear and how they will use the information. It’s also really important that you know whether your audience will actually be in the room (client’s boss, boss’s boss) and know what they want.

2. KYN: Know Your Numbers

There’s nothing worse than being caught out not knowing your numbers, or missing the vital, compelling, unarguable piece of the story.

If you know your numbers you can use data creatively to tell your story, make it interesting, have an engaging conversation about it and draw relevant, meaningful, actually useful insights from it.

3. KYS: Know Your Shi Stuff

You should always be across your brief, comfortable with it and able to discuss it from many angles. This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours studying the background, present day and everything in between to the nth degree, but you should know enough to be able to explain it simply, deal with objections and questions, and persuade people to your point of view.

4. A Pinch of Prep will Prevent a Pound of Pain

On countless occasions, I have had my backside saved by doing something to cross the i’s or dot the t’s, or just make sure my advice is complete. The fact that I sent a client an email, or a note, covering off an element, a talking point, or a recommendation, sometimes months before I needed it has made me grateful that, for the most part, I’m a detail-oriented person who likes things to be complete.

Do what needs to be done. Two minutes now can save a couple of hours down the line.