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

Preparing to Master the Stage

Use Sticky Notes to Help You Prepare

Here’s a little trick I learned years ago that helps when preparing a talk or presentation. Get a pack of three-inch by three-inch sticky notes, then find a large, open space such as a door or a wall with no pictures on it.

On the first sticky note, write the objective of your talk or presentation and stick it on the wall or door in the top left corner. This will become a reference point for building the rest of the presentation.

Next, on separate sticky notes, write any idea that comes to mind about your presentation topic, without judgment as to its value or relevance to the objective. Jot down any ideas, stories, examples, anecdotes, research, references and anything else that come to mind about the presentation. For each thought, place the sticky note on the wall, in whatever order you feel it should be placed.

When you’re done, you should have a space filled with sticky notes, each with one thought written on it. Then walk away from it for twenty-four hours.

After twenty-four hours, come back to the space and review the material on the sticky notes. Look for anything that doesn’t feel right or look right and place a small “x” on that note, so you can identify it later as something needing attention. Mark it with a question mark if you’re not sure yet. Maybe something needs to be reworded or relocated somewhere else in the presentation. As you’re reviewing, new ideas may come to mind, so add them to the presentation wall.

Repeat this for a few days, always adding and moving things around. Try not to remove too much just yet, but if there are things that are not likely to fit into your presentation, move them to another spot, maybe on another wall. Don’t discard them. We’ll discuss why a little later.

After you’ve completed this review several times, and when you’re confident that you have all the points you need on the wall, then it’s time to begin removing items. The next section will explain how and why.

So, what’s the lesson? Use sticky notes to gather your creative ideas in one place, and add to it every twenty-four hours. You’ll be amazed at how much information you can come up with.

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