It happens to us all – a big presentation gets cancelled, your part of the pitch gets pulled or you decide to leave out a section of a presentation that you had worked on long and hard.
I was working with a client recently on a major presentation and we had included a very nice aside that set up an important point. But as I heard him deliver it in rehearsals, I realised that the presentation had moved on since we had originally included that aside and that it was no longer necessary.

So we pulled it.

No hesitation, no recrimination, no regret for all the time invested in putting it together, scripting it and rehearsing it. Gone. And the presentation will be the better for it.

Then, while finalising the closing remarks of the talk, my client was told by the powers-that-be that he couldn’t use his intended closing – apparently, some very thin-skinned personage is going to be in the room and the powers-that-be don’t want the hint of a risk that this august person might take offence.

Cue frantic scrabbling as we tried to come up with a new close. And there it was – our dropped aside. It set up the new close very nicely and my client now has a stronger presentation because of it.

Funny how these things happen.

This weekend, I came across a speech that Richard Nixon never made. Sitting in the archives are all his prepared remarks, including a version of a speech relating to the lunar landing in 1969. Penned by William Safire, the words would have been used if Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong had not been able to leave the moon’s surface and rejoin the orbiting command module:

In the event of Moon disaster

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the Moon to explore in peace will stay on the Moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edward Aldrin, know there is no hope for their recovery but they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding. They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. Others will follow and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied but these men were the first and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the Moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Great words, and even better that they did not have to be used. Never be afraid to put your good stuff back in the cupboard.