A simple tool to make your presentation move your audience to action

In this age of technology, we can overthink many things that are actually quite simple. An example is a technique that I use with Post It Notes. I use this tool all the time to develop presentations that will easily engage an audience and leave a lasting impression.

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

Here’s what you need: a pack of small multi-colored sticky notes and a manila file folder, either letter size or for larger projects, legal size. Label your folder with the name of the presentation and get to work. First, outline the main topics or key points you want to cover. Each theme has its own sticky note color. Place them on top of the open folder. Plan to use the left and right sides of the open folder. I like to use manila folders because I can fold them up and take them with me. I work from home, but I often use the coffee shops to take advantage of a few minutes of work when I’m not there.

With my top topics in one color at the top of the open folder, I start adding content using a different color in each column created with the topic title. I find that it moves quickly. I use a blue sticky note for the “passing line” or Big Idea, attached to a space to the side. In this way, I make sure that all the main points relate to the Big Idea. This keeps me on topic, and I don’t go for any “rabbit trails” during my presentation. The Big Idea takes place throughout the presentation. If it’s a teaching lesson, I set goals for the students to make sure they don’t get lost in the confusion.

In your presentation, you may want to highlight the stakes for your audience if they don’t buy your Big Idea. Make that sticky note red. You can also highlight a main point with a short illustrative story. Make that sticky note blue. If you need to, you can just take a column from a main point and reposition it in your presentation. You want it in a logical order that is easy for the audience to follow. 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 (like in music) that builds to a shocking end point. When different elements of your presentation are in different colors, changing the order is quick and easy. You are now ready to compose your presentation from your final mapping.

I carry a small stack of sticky notes with me, so when I have a lot of inspiration and don’t have that particular presentation map with me, I write it down 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 go. High technology in its simplest form 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 useful ideas that I can convey. Good luck and speak well!

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