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Reviews and Excercises

"Putting your ideas on
paper is the best way of
thinking them through."
- Lee Iacocca

runners Tool #2 Brainstorming
Pursuing The Perfect Presentation

Even the best technical presenters will, on occasion, have trouble getting started in preparing their presentation. This may be due to many factors. One of these factors is that most of us want to create a perfect technical presentation the first time.

We begin the process of collecting our thoughts and determining the scope of detail we want to include. We also are thinking about how to organize the ideas and what language to use to make our ideas clear. Trying to do all of this at the same time results in a kind of multi-tasking that is not effective and can end up in a jumbled mess or even idea paralysis. One of the best cures for this phenomenon is to use brainstorming.

In brainstorming, the goal is to uncover ideas, NOT strive for order and coherence. Being concerned with organization and detail slows down and inhibits our thinking and we lose ideas in the muddle. Effective brainstorming keeps pace with our thoughts and allows us to capture them freely and quickly. It takes the pressure off because we don't have to get it right - the outcome isn't permanent. It allows us to see the big picture and keeps us from getting trapped in a mire of little words.

Two To Tango, But Only One To Brainstorm

Many people have experience in brainstorming in groups, but the technique can also be effectively used by a single person - provided the basic guidelines for brainstorming are followed.

These guidelines are:

  • Relax.
  • Write as fast as you can.
  • Write in any order.
  • Free-associate ideas.
  • Write down all ideas.
  • Keep writing.
  • Don't worry about spelling.
  • Don't worry about organization.
  • Don't worry about word choice.
  • Don't attempt to restrict or evaluate ideas.

Quick To Generate, Slow To Record

Our brains are capable of producing ideas faster than we can capture them if we record the complete idea. Instead of complete sentences, capture key words only. Write just enough to remind you of what you were thinking when the idea popped into your head. Later you can embellish the key words into meaningful sentences. Key words also make it easier to rearrange concepts as you begin to overlay a preliminary organization on the content.

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