Presentation Gold – Part One – Easy Planning

Presentation Gold – Part One

The Olympic motto is "Citius, Altius, Fortius." These three Latin words mean "Swifter, Higher, Stronger."

Over time I have had the experience of working with Olympic athletes as presenters and the motto rings ever so true when applying the meaning of those three simple words when developing and delivering your own champion presentations.

As it happens I ended up in the company of an Olympic Hopeful just last month while I was delayed in an airport for several hours due to flight cancellations. We struck up a conversation and quickly found parallels in the immense power of preparation, whether for an Olympic event or an important presentation. There was one phrase this athletic individual uttered to me that prompted me to write this article.

The phrase was simply this, “…I know the Olympics are over a year away but I train like the Olympics are tomorrow.” 

That phrase will forever be in my memory.    

The kicker for me was was that when I described to this individual that much of the work I do with presenters revolves around the importance of disciplined  preparation and rehearsal, all they could say was, “…presenters don’t do that now?”

To protect the presentation innocent I withhold my pithy response.     

The Summer Olympic Games in 2008 may seem quite far off but not to athletes that plan on coming back as champions. It means ongoing training, coaching and commitment. To help you jump out of the presentation gate I will give you the powerful aspects of the Olympic motto and how to apply them well in advance of the finish line. This newsletter will be offered in three parts and this is part one. 

The Latin word Citius which means Swifter.  

Let’s start with how to develop presentations more quickly or swiftly. Our days are clogged now with a deluge of e-mail, voicemail and seemingly endless meetings and appointments. Here’s what usually happens as a damaging shortcut for many presenters. Often times individuals will take existing or tired presentations and try to force fit them into new situations. Unfortunately it is usually painfully obvious to the audience that the verbal content or visual content like PowerPoint doesn’t seem to be relevant or particularly interesting. There is audience disconnect number one.

Give me a break!

It’s unlikely that  many of us are training for the Olympics so let me put it a different way. 

If I decided to paint a room in my home my first step would not be to go down to the basement and go through half empty paint cans with various leftover colors from previous projects. Nor would I try to use up the mix up of colors to complete my shiny new project.

The shiny new project would likely take on the appearance of a patchwork quilt. One wall is blue, another wall is green and the last wall is a bit of blue and green. I guess I was running out of paint, and nothing was going to stop me from finishing the job.   

The number of times I have witnessed presentations that are clearly a patchwork quilt astounds me. Some copy from a script here, some copy taken from a script there. Next, copy and paste a few PowerPoint slides from a really old file and just for good measure change the date to today. There that should do it and voila, a presentation that only a mother could love and cherish. Too bad Mom won’t be in the audience to cheer them on while others simply stare blankly while  fighting back a yawn reflex. 

That should do it and voila a presentation that only a mother could love. 

Here’s the missing link for many presenters. Like the room painting project it needs to be thought through and well planned. A template or blueprint is necessary to complete the project to the envy of others.

Presentations need a plan, no plan then no presentation.

Powerful presentations are made up of several components. Components like a strong opening, meaningful transitions along with relevant, high impact stories, anecdotes and analogies. 

Back to the ‘swifter’ part. That may seem like a lot of components to develop and deliver in a powerful manner. A presentation like any other project needs a blueprint or template. Once that is in place the project becomes simple and easy to complete. Better yet the results are predictable and easy to duplicate.   

The easy to duplicate part is the key to spending less time in developing the presentation and more swiftly. To help you create and follow your own blueprint, simply download my one page Presentation Planner by going here:  Presentation Quick Planner

An integral part of swifter presentation planning is maintaining an existing inventory of presentation components much like having the right paint color in stock or knowing what color is needed from the paint store.

Here is what your basic presentation inventory needs to look like:

  • Powerful opening techniques
  • Presentation relevant stories (your own)
  • Animated anecdotes
  • Colorful analogies
  • Powerful closing techniques

Now to keep your presentation inventory organized and fresh I suggest creating files and folders on your computer with simple names by following the titles above. In the future when you are developing a presentation and you are looking for a story then you can simply scan your inventory. The story doesn’t need to be captured word for word, just a couple of sentences or a paragraph of the story. This will serve as a descriptor and you get to tell the story in your own words avoiding having to learn a script.

Building your presentation inventory now becomes simple as you have a definite place to keep track of it. Anytime a new experience triggers material worthy of capture then immediately capture it.  Browse weekly through your inventory to look for additions or deletions. From time to time rehearse out loud some of the material. That technique alone will save you embarrassment of choosing some material and realizing you have forgotten some of it and you just so happen to be in front of an audience at that particular moment. Ouch!

Once you become comfortable in maintaining your basic presentation inventory you will find yourself adding new categories. Here are just a few additional categories from my own inventory to help your thought process.

  • Quips and Quotes
  • Visual techniques
  • Using presentation props
  • Acronyms
  • Favorite expressions
  • Little known facts
  • Startling statistics
  • Common myths & folklore debunked
  • Real events too funny or weird to make up (my personal favorite)

The last one happens to be my favorite and I can add to this one almost daily. Just scan the headlines of any major newspaper or news online. New and topical material will be almost endless if you look for it.

Your next presentation can be now developed easily and swiftly because your presentation inventory is fresh, vibrant and at your fingertips.  

No more having to knock over old paint cans when creating your next presentation

Next time I will concentrate on the second part of the Olympic motto, ‘Altius’ which means higher. You will see how to take your presentation delivery to a whole new level. I will reveal how to use  simple and scientific approaches for preparing like the Olympics are tomorrow.

Great Presentations!

Richard Peterson, North America’s Presentation Coach™

Presentation Resource Library:

P.P.S – be sure to visit my presentation portal to the latest updates on new articles by going here:


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