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Put The Notes Down

In 2005 a poll was conducted and its results stated that the top 5 fears in America were Terrorist Attacks, Spiders, Death, Failure and War.

Unless your latest intern is a psychotic extremist arachnid, with access to weapons grade plutonium, and a working knowledge of the geopolitical situation, you’re not going to see these things at work.

You ARE going to have to deal with the fear of failure, especially when doing something you haven’t been trained to do – Presenting.

Most business people at one time or another have to present to groups; and whether it’s to colleagues or pitching for a contract it’s one of the scariest things many people have to do.

That’s why we like notes… notes are our security blanket.

My son is four years old, and he loves his muzzy. His muzzy is any square of muslin cloth that he can chew on during the night. My wife and I know that he’s tired because he wants his muzzy…He’s four years old… he’s allowed a security blanket.

You are in business… you’re not.

So what do you do?

This may sound stupid, but you put the notes down.

There is no excuse for lack of preparation, you know that you’re going to have to present so you prepare. Work out what you’re going to say with the help of notes, script if you want, and then pare back... Turn your script into sub headings and brief paragraphs, then pare back and turn your brief paragraphs into bullet points, then pare back and turn your bullet points into single words.

Throughout this process you’re still working from the ideas within the original script but you’re entering it into long term storage. Don’t worry about being word for word; this is a presentation not a play.

Once you have the single words that can guide you through the presentation place them on a single card. This is your tiny square of muzzy. It’s there if you need it, to re-set what you’re talking about.

Don’t forget that most of what you’re talking about is on a PowerPoint behind you, and on a screen in front of you.

How will putting your notes away help you?

It will stop you reading, it will stop you being flustered finding your place and killing the presentation; it will stop your brain abdicating the responsibility of remembering. Adrenaline is your friend, without your notes your brain has to do the work and recall the information it would otherwise not bother doing.

You are a professional; you’re being asked to talk about something that you know.

So why do you need notes?

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