Hey, here’s a fun writing exercise: Write your paper backwards.
That is, try reversing the order: put the last part first and the first part last. Works for presentations too.
What is this nonsense?
I remember a few years ago I watched a student team’s presentation and, as delicately as I could, I told them exactly that.
Just reverse the order of the slides and try it again.
I’ve learned at thing or two about non-verbal communication over the years, and from their menacing, narrowed eyes, their hands on their hips, the tossed pieced of paper and the thrown stapler… I just sensed that they didn’t like that comment.
Here’s the thing: I’ve done this in my own writing and presentations, and here’s why:
You might actually be learning as you write, organizing your ideas as they move from your brain, through your fingers, onto your computer screen.
In this sense, your first paragraph or opening statement might be your biggest, broadest idea. And that’s okay to have in the opening, like your thesis statement. But in the true spirit of starting with a “crappy copy” just to get the writing juices flowing, it might be a little too unorganized, too loose.
As you work through your writing, your thoughts become more organized as you go.
By the time you’re done, you might actually have a better idea of what is motivating your work. Of what you’re really trying to say. And THAT is s good way to start a presentation.
So if you write like that (like I do, anyway), flip the script… literally. Start with your conclusion; go back and begin with a well-organized motivating statement, the purpose of your project. Focus yourself and your reader or listener. Then finish with that big idea, your call to action.
You might like it that way.
See you tomorrow.