Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting started is the hardest part

Here in the Northeast we've had snow, snow and more snow. Although you wouldn't know it to look at me, I love getting out there and shoveling. It's a good thing too, because we live at the top of a relatively unforgiving hill with HUGE trees along the driveway. But with the insane amounts of snow we've had this winter even I am finding shoveling a daunting task some days.

Last week, for example, I woke up to over a foot of snow which had drifted on our front stoop and against our storm door. It took brute strength just to make it outside, and then I was standing in snow up to my knees, with no easy place to shovel it to. (there are walls of snow on either side of the driveway literally about 4 feet tall...)

So I began shoveling. What else could I do? I cleared the stoop and the stairs, and then little by little I began clearing the driveway. I had to think strategically; where was I to put this new snow? Where would we need room to maneuver the cars? By the time my son came out to help I'd created enough space for two of us to make even better progress. It took us three hours, but we did it.

The same is true with presentations. Beginning is the hardest part. It feels vast and overwhelming. There's so much to say, so much information to gather, so little time. I think this is why so many presenters simply copy and paste other people's slides and slam together a "presentation" that, when given, feels like a long dark ride on a bumpy road.

A better way would be to sit with a piece of paper and map out the presentation. Think about the presentation's purpose, the audience's problem and how you're solving it. THEN start building. The time you spend thinking will be the most valuable time of all. THAT'S the beginning; hard but necessary.

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