15 November 2010

Big presentation coming up? Stuck for ideas?

When you get to a certain point in your career you become a 'subject matter expert' where you know a lot about what you do.  And with that brings opportunities to speak at the next staff meeting, the national conference, or to a group of clients.

Some people are comfortable in front of a crowd and can just stand up and the ideas flow.  For the rest of us, it can take a little more time and thought to design a speech.  

So how do you pull your ideas together, quickly and easily?

Here's 3 simple ideas to get you started.

Start an Ideas Bank.  This becomes your pool of resources that you can go to when you need to create a new presentation.  It is a file of ideas that you can access quickly and easily when called on to speak.

It's easy to create an Ideas Bank.  Grab a Manila Folder, a 2-ring Binder or a Notepad journal (Whatever works for you) and label it "Speaking Ideas for ....". Each time you come across a great quote, a fabulous story or a terrific idea that's related to your topic, simply pop it into your Ideas Bank.  It won't take long to build a terrific collection of relevant material.

Reflect on life.  Take a moment to reflect on stories from your life that relate to your topic.  Can you build metaphors (an analogy linking two ideas) around your topic? That is, how you can create a more simple way to describe the concept you're trying to get across?

For example, you can talk about 'persistence' involving the need to keep going even if you don't get it right the first time ... or you can relate a story about a baby starting to walk, falling down over and over, and getting up again and again to have another go, which helps them to walk and then eventually to run.

People can relate easily to the need to encourage a baby to keep going, to make their first steps, to learn the process, to get better and better.  And through the analogy they will understand the need for persistence in life a whole lot more than simply talking about it in theoretical terms.   Through metaphors, we can get people to consider the concept in far richer terms than giving a dry explanation and hoping they will create meaning from it.   Jot the rich anecdotes and analogies from your life into your Ideas Bank.

Ask your audience for ideas.  This is one of the easiest ways to make sure  you meet the expectations of the audience on the day.  Simply ask 2 or 3 people who'll be attending, "What are the 3 key things you'd most like to know about this topic?".  This simple research can yield terrific thought-starters to help you target your content.

These three techniques will make it far easier for you to come up with fresh ideas next time you're asked to speak.  Log them.  And refer to them when you're stuck for ideas.