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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.


How to Completely Kill the Moment

Imagine youíre making love. Youíre in the middle of the steamiest moment. Youíre excited, engaged and completely involved, when all of a sudden, your partner stops, flips the page in the manual, reads the instructions, and then tries to pick up where he or she left off. Donít you just hate it when that happens?

I get so frustrated when a speaker has my attention, and is on a roll with a captivating message. When the speaker has me enthralled, both mentally and emotionally, but then has to stop to check notes. What a way to completely kill the moment!

Hereís how you can prevent such a showstopper. Instead of notes or a script, consider using a mental picture stack.

In my training programs, the first thing I do is give my students a very simple mental picture to follow for their first presentation, and here it is:

In your mind, picture a huge name plate with your name on it, and picture it balancing on edge on the top of your head. You struggle to keep it balanced as it sways to and fro, but you manage to keep it balanced on your head.

At the same time, thereís a rolled up map being stuffed up your nose, as if by some magical force. With your right hand youíre trying to pull the map out of your nose, but it keeps pushing itself back in there.

While all of thatís happening, thereís a giant Cheerio stuck to your bottom lip, and itís pulling your bottom lip down. Itís very heavy, and itís pulling your face down while youíre trying to keep that map out of your nose, and you still have to keep balancing that name plate on your head.

As if thatís not enough, your left handís holding a goal net, like the ones used in ice hockey. This net is in front of your stomach, and itís very heavy, plus very awkward. Your left armís tired from the weight of this goal net, your face is being pulled down by a giant Cheerio on your bottom lip, your right handís fighting with the map thatís pushing its way up your nose, and that name plateís still trying to fall off your head.

What on Earth could all of that possibly mean? Itís a visual roadmap for the first presentation my students give in class. Their first assignment is to stand in front of the class, and tell us their name (name plate), where theyíre from (rolled up map), what their occupation is (Cheerio is ďOĒ for occupation), and what their goal is in the class (goal net). See how that works?

This same process can be used for a presentation of any length of time, and it can completely remove the need for written notes. When itís time to move from one topic to the next, a moment of silent thought is all thatís required to think about the next picture in the stack, and then to move into that topic. Your audience has no clue that youíre using the notes, because theyíre in your mind.

The key to success in using this strategy is to exaggerate the pictures, and include motion. The more ridiculous the scenes, the easier itíll be to recall them. Iíve done entire workshops with this method. Thereís no limit to the number of items that you can recall, with a little practice.

So, whatís the lesson? To keep the momentum going, get rid of the paper notes, and use picture stacks in your mind instead.

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