A 2017 survey found that the biggest fear among modern-day villains was that they would be taken by surprise when the protagonist arrived. No one wants to be caught off guard when the door to their office opens, only to be met by a hero covered in dirt and grime yet who has their hair and/or makeup done perfectly. Being a villain is all about gaining and maintaining an advantage after all. So to make sure you don’t find yourself with foiled plans, follow this quick guide to stay ahead of any surprises.

Always be working on your monologue.

Much like a resume, a monologue is something that should be continuously updated. Have you found yourself in a position where your grand scheme will allow you to not only kidnap the governor’s daughter, but his wife as well? Include that in the monologue! If you don’t practice your monologue and keep it current, you will come across as less intimidating when the protagonist asks what your plan is. You already know they’re just stalling for time; don’t help them out by stumbling over your words or going back to include details you omitted the first time.

Practice your high-back swivel chair reveal.

This one is more about looking cool than anything else. When it comes to the art of revealing your presence, remember the two S's: smoothness and surprise. When that door opens, announce yourself as confidently as possible, with a perfect spin in your chair. Ideally, the back of the chair will be high enough so that you cannot be seen until your spin. However, if you are too tall or the back of your chair is too short, you can accomplish the same effect by slouching down. Make sure your spin isn’t choppy. You only want to have to push off with your foot once. Multiple pushes make the movement seem jerky.

To practice the element of surprise, dedicate 10 to 15 minutes a day sitting in your office alone in the dark. Have your henchmen come in unannounced and try timing your spin for the exact moment they turn the light on. When you're confident in your timing, have an assistant send in a henchman who thinks you're gone. Then see how surprising and smooth your turn really is.

Keep the trapdoor oiled.

You’ve followed the first two steps: you’ve monologued brilliantly and your adversary is still clearly shook from how fly you looked when you spun around in that chair. In his daze, he’s wandered right onto that oriental rug cleverly placed in the middle of the marble floor to hide the trapdoor to the dungeon. You press the button to open the door only to hear grinding gears. This isn’t the time to pull out the WD-40. Make sure your lair is in working order before you need it to be, and it will be ready to go when the time comes. Spend that extra money to have a professional examine your lair at least once a quarter, if not more often. The money you spend now will pale in comparison to the court fees if the hero arrests you.

Hopefully you’ve found some of these tips to be helpful, and just maybe they’ve been able to put your mind at ease. Being a villain is hard work—why complicate it further? Check back next week for “Aim True: Tips for Henchmen Who Can’t Hit the Broadside of a Barn.”