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
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
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
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.