Preparing to Master the Stage
For Every Point, Ask, “Is This
After another twenty-four hours,
come back to the space and for each sticky note on the
wall, ask yourself this: “Is this point really
important? Is it absolutely critical to my
If the answer is ‘yes,’ leave the
sticky note on the wall. If the answer is ‘no,’ remove
the sticky note, but keep it handy for later. I like to
place them on a separate wall, because I’ll be coming
back to them.
Once you’ve passed first judgment
on all the thoughts and added any new thoughts, walk
away for another twelve to twenty-four hours. Can you
see why it can take so long to prepare a really great
presentation? This is the difference between a good
presentation and a kick-ass presentation!
Keep coming back to the wall
every twelve to twenty-four hours or so, until you have
only the most critical thoughts on the presentation
wall, all arranged in the order in which you will
Now, it’s time to begin adding
the supporting information.
Go back to the pile of sticky
notes you removed from the wall and sift through them
for information that supports your main points.
When you find sticky notes with
information you can use, post them into your
presentation, and in the proper location. Your
presentation will take shape, and when you’re through,
you’ll have everything you need on the presentation
wall. You may need to come back to the presentation wall
every twelve to twenty-four hours or so for several days
until you have it just the way you want it. That’s just
what it takes to do this well.
In his book, Beyond Bullet
Points, Cliff Atkinson provides a presentation
template that breaks the presentation down into triads.
This means there are three main points. For each point,
there are three supporting points, and for each
supporting point, there are three additional supporting
When the presentation is arranged
in this way, you have three versions of the
presentation. If you have five minutes to present, you
can deliver only the first three points, if you have
fifteen minutes to present, you can deliver the first
three points and each of the supporting points. And if
you have forty-five minutes, you can deliver all of the
supporting points in the presentation.
The benefits of preparing a
presentation using this sticky note approach are
You’ll have a well-organized
presentation that’s been thought through carefully and
You’ll be able to deliver
variations of the presentation, based on the amount of
time you’re allocated. Since you have five-minute,
fifteen-minute, and forty-five-minute versions of your
presentation, you’ll be able to adjust your delivery on
the fly if circumstances warrant.
This process also galvanizes the
information in your brain, so you’re far more likely to
be able to flow through the presentation without
referring to your notes.
You’ll have a pile of extra
sticky notes, each with information that could be added
to your presentation if needed. This gives you enormous
confidence, because you have a lot of extra material if
you’re asked questions, if you’re given extra time or if
your presentation flows faster than planned. Many of
those extra sticky notes probably contain great fillers
to add to your presentation if you have to.
So, what’s the lesson? Plan your
presentation with sticky notes. They’ll help you trim it
down and keep it relevant.