How to avoid one of the most common presentation pitfalls:
Always start planning your next presentation with a
clean sheet of paper!
Introducing Clean Sheet Thinking™, a brilliantly simple presentation planning tool that guides you through the key steps in planning a high engagement presentation. Clean Sheet Thinking™ is based on the basic principle that you should start with a clean sheet of paper for every presentation because every audience is unique. It takes about thirty minutes to complete and can save you hours of time and increase the impact of your presentation. Clean Sheet Thinking™ methodology and tools can be used to plan for formal presentations, informal fire-side chats and even meetings.
- download the free template – Clean Sheet Thinking_pre planning tool for presentations
What is it?
Clean Sheet Thinking™ is essentially a clean sheet of paper (or a blank word document), with a few key questions added to guide you through the thinking process. It serves as a map allowing you to plot out the best course to get you where you want to go in your presentation. Rather than just driving aimlessly (at the expense of your company and your audience), Clean Sheet Thinking™ allows you to see the big picture, with all major and minor roads shown, the typography, the distances, the major structures, what’s connected to what, etc. Unlike a GPS Global Positioning System for navigation that tells you exactly how to get there (theoretically the best way, but personal experience reveals that is not always the case), Clean Sheet Thinking™ allows you to plot the course that you desire to take. This is when your presentation skills start to shine.
Why it works
The brilliance of Clean Sheet Thinking™ lies in its simplicity. Once you get used to it as a business tool, it will become second nature like brushing your teeth in the morning – something you can’t do without. By practicing this easy methodology when planning your presentations and meetings, many people find that their stress levels reduce and their focus increases. This is how we bring out the very best of our ability, by slowing down and engaging our brains early on in the planning process.
How it works – 6 simple steps
Like all great inventions, the complexity of the process is masked by the ease of use. Most of us don’t care to know how it works, just that it works and works well for us! But for the sake of full disclosure, let’s go through the six simple steps of Clean Sheet Thinking™.
- Logistics. Clean Sheet Thinking™ starts with the easy-to-answer logistical questions: what, who, when, where – the things that help you show up at the right place at the right time to deliver the presentation. Don’t overlook this basic information and don’t leave it to someone else to tell you where you need to be and when. Your reputation and credibility could be at stake. Take charge of this vital information.
- Objectives. It then asks you to consider your objectives – the specific reasons for giving this presentation. The more explicit and measurable you are in your presentation objective setting, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Now consider the objectives or goals of your audience. Why are they there? What do they hope to get out of this presentation? Putting yourself in the shoes of your audience members will give you a new perspective on what this presentation must achieve.
- Audience. What else do you know about your audience? Who specifically will be there? What are their passions, interests and even pet peeves? I recommend that you get specific down to the key people’s names and a bit of info about them. Use the Internet to do your research (Google, LinkedIn.com, etc.) Call people you know who know them and get additional insight. Call key members of the audience directly and find out from the horse’s mouth. Get to know your audience even before you even show up to give the presentation. This will give you a great advantage, a real leg up!
Think / Feel / Do. What responses do you want from your audience? Don’t leave it to random chance, but plan for it. Think/Feel/Do forces you to consider the three areas of response possible: intellectual activity, emotional response and physical action. When planning for your next presentation, give careful consideration to these three areas of possible response. It will help you to create impact with your presentation.
Demonstration. If you want to get your message across, demonstrating it will always be more powerful than just saying it. “Show me, don’t tell me.” Why is this? Because most people will are visually dominant and believe it when they see it. When demonstrating things during your presentations, you’ll want to tap into your creativity. This is where you can have a lot of fun and truly engage your audience. Practice and rehearsal is recommended, so that your demonstration really lives up and has the full power and effect on your audience.
- Key Message. Your key message is the core essence of your presentation. It’s what you want them to remember after they leave your presentation and ten years from now. Think of your key message as the central nervous system of your presentation- it drives everything else. It only makes sense to spend quality time developing, refining and delivering it for a powerful, lasting impact on your audience.
Where can you find the Clean Sheet Thinking™ template?
You can find the MS Word document template of Clean Sheet Thinking™ on our FREE Stuff page.
It can also be found as a downloadable attachment on the Stand & Deliver™ audio training program.
Who loves it?
“This morning, I had a quick talk planned (informal, fire side chat type) with seven people in my organization. I used the Clean Sheet Thinking template and it got my thoughts clear. It made me think more carefully of my objective and what my audience could get out of the talk. I do many of these types of informal presentations and in the past would have given less thought and relied more on winging it – a pitfall that many presenters often face. I now have a great tool that can help me be more successful in both formal and informal presentation settings.”- Philip Slominski, Vice President, Freedom 55 Financial, London Life, Montreal, Canada
“Kathy is really the best presentation presenter I’ve seen in my career. I’ll be using her Clean Sheet Thinking tool to plan all of my future presentations. It’s brilliantly simple and extremely useful.” – Bob Litchy, Director of Sales, MMA
What do you think?
How does it work for you? What kind of results do you get from using Clean Sheeting Thinking™? Please let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page
What does it actually look like?
Want your own copy?
Download a free template – Clean Sheet Thinking_pre planning tool for presentations
You are also invited to visit our FREE Stuff page to get other free resources that you can use. It’s our gift to you. Please share them with other people that you care about.
Please remember to use Clean Sheet Thinking™ tool everytime you plan a presentation, even if you’ve given it 100 times before. It’s a discipline that will make you not only a stronger presenter, but a better business leader. Think before you build!