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