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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

:Memorize Key Phrases But Not the Entire Presentation

Relying on your memory for your entire presentation will really get you into trouble. That’s why most speakers use notes and/or slides to help them stay on track, which is okay, as long as they’re not just standing there and reading to the audience.

Keeping that in mind, it’s a good idea to memorize and rehearse key phrases and sentences, so they have the desired impact when you utter them.

When I give a presentation of any kind, I always write out the opening statement. I research the best way to say it, and rehearse it over and over again. When I take the stage, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is something I’ve said thousands of times before. This way, I get off to a comfortable start, and I gain momentum right from the first word.

The same principle applies with my call to action and my closing statement. These are critically important parts of the presentation, so I memorize them, rehearse them and refine them to the point that they roll off my tongue with ease, with confidence and with impact.

When developing your presentation, identify the critical points and make sure you know how you’re going to deliver them. Come up with the best way to articulate your thoughts, and practice it relentlessly. Your presentation will have the impact you need, but still have the natural flow your audience wants.

So, what’s the lesson? Memorize and rehearse key words and phrases, and they’ll have the impact you require. Leave the rest to a natural delivery.

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 points.

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 numerous.

You’ll have a well-organized presentation that’s been thought through carefully and strategically.

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.

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