A Simple Tool to Make Your Presentation Move Audiences to Action

In this age of technology, we may over-think many things that are really quite simple. One example is a technique I use with Post It Notes. I use this tool all the time in developing presentations that will easily engage the audience and leave a lasting impression.

Many recognize this as a story board, one that is easy to amend and is totally portable. I use it to prepare all my presentations, and even review and update my old ones. I call it “Presentation Mapping.”

Here’s what you need: a package of small multi-colored sticky notes, and a manila file folder, either letter size or for bigger projects, legal size. Label your folder with the presentation name and start to work. First, chart out the main topics or key points you want to cover. Each topic gets its own sticky note color. Put them at the top of the open folder. Plan on using both the left and right sides of the open folder. I like using manila folders because I can fold them up and carry them around with me. I work from home, but often use coffee shops to catch a few minutes of work time when I am away.

With my primary topics in one color running along the top of the open folder, I start to add content using a different color running down each column created with the topic title. I find it moves along quickly. I use a blue colored sticky note for the “through line” or Big Idea, attached to a space to the side. This way I make certain every main point will tie in the Big Idea. This keeps me on subject, and not going down any “rabbit trails” during my presentation. The Big Idea is carried throughout the presentation. If it is a teaching lesson, I put down the objectives for the students to be sure these don’t get lost in the shuffle.

In your presentation you might want to high-light what is at stake for your audience if they don’t buy into your Big Idea. Make that sticky note red. You can also make a main point stand out with a short illustrative story. Make that sticky note blue. If you need to you can just pick up a column of a major point and reposition it in your presentation. You want it in a logical order that is easy to follow by the audience. They will be anticipating your next point, and you don’t want to redirect their thinking. Create drama by putting your main points in a meaningful order. I like to think of it as a crescendo (as in music) building to a final impactful point. When different elements to your presentation are in different colors, changing the order is quick and easy. Now you are ready to draft your presentation from your final mapping.

I carry around a small stack of sticky notes, so when I have a great inspiration and I don’t have that particular presentation map with me, I write it out on a Post It Note and transfer it to that presentation map when I get back to my home office. The presentation mapping process is always under construction, and I can always find ways to improve it.

There you have it. High tech at its simplest put to work creating powerful presentations. I frequently work with speakers helping them develop their presentations that will resonate with their audiences. This simple tool is one of the most helpful ideas I can pass on. Good luck, and speak well!

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