A visual design plan for a talk

When giving a talk — whether it’s a three minute pitch of a new idea, or a forty minute lecture on a topic — I find it very useful to do a quick, visual cover sheet for what the flow & the punch of the talk should be.
A visual worksheet for planning a talk
It forces me to focus on what the audience’s experience of what I want to communicate to them. I know the jumble of points, background & insights I want to convey — but what do I want the audience to experience in terms of emotions, narrative, & tweetable lines? And most importantly, what do I want them to remember a few hours later, when they describe it to a friend? Outlining those key takeaways — as well as trying to deliver the right emotional arc and tweetworthy lines & pictures — is an essential planning step for me. It’s a good forcing function to get directed, engaging, and intentional.

And once I have this visual pre-cap of my talk, I can also keep it in my mind as I’m actually giving the talk. I can think about where I am on the emotional journey, or if I’ve hit the points I wanted to hit. This little bit of structure lets me avoid having index cards or other written guides while I’m talking. I don’t have to say any exact words right, I just need to hit those points and arcs that I’d sketched out before.

One Response
  • Ed
    Jan 29, 2015

    I like you concise and useful approach!

    It is similar to what I do myself when giving talks (I have made presentations at 8 national and international conferences) — but I am not an artist! However, artwork that my then-teenaged son did for one of my presentations was printed in an international publication. To compensate for my lack of artistic talent, I find photos to “spice up” my presentations — I was just doing that last evening for a presentation in 11 days. I try to make them amusing, like using a Tata Nano versus a Bentley Mulsanne to illustrate the difference between a low-end system and a high-end system — they will both get you from one place to another, so it’s a matter of cost, comfort, safety, etc.

    I am a retired lawyer, and have been very actively involved in access to the law for more than 25 years. I am currently working on a project that will be highly useful to a certain segment of the legal community for helping make the law more accessible.

    I’ll keep up with your work, and maybe one day contribute to it.

    Ed Jan 29, 2015
    Reply

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