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The Dog Ate My Speech: Preparing an Important Presentation at the Last Minute

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You have an important speech or presentation coming up on Monday. It’s Sunday now and you have prepared nothing. Maybe it’s not your fault because the plan was changed at the last minute, or maybe you had allocated time to prepare but then there was an emergency to deal with. Or maybe it is your fault. But it doesn’t matter.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the situation is not at all hopeless. You can always recover from a zero-preparation situation and sometimes it can even lead to a better outcome, provided that you know how to do it.

Pretending to be ill or saying that the dog ate your speech might get you off the hook, but long term this will work against your credibility. Your best approach is to go ahead but to use a lean approach to crafting a brief but powerful speech.
Here’s one way to solve the problem:
First of all, throw away all of your old notes, slides and other materials. It’s tempting to try to recycle old stuff but you will find that trying to find and adapt existing things …

How Organic Networking Helps Introverts Grow Their Network

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Many people avoid networking because they are introverted or just shy, but a much better idea is to simply avoid the "artificial" networking opportunities like cocktail-hour mingles. You can get much better results anyway by networking organically through activities.

When you are working with other people you naturally build strong connections as a side effect of the co-operation, simply by being a good team player, colleague, employee or manager. If you have any sort of job you are already building a network in your workplace and environment even though you are probably not aware of it. You can greatly increase the reach and effectiveness of this networking by adding other activities to your daily job. These activities could be other projects in your workplace or related to your work, like organizing a work event. They can also be activities outside of work.

Probably the most effective of these outside activities is to volunteer for non profits that involve something that …

Three Secrets of Calm Public Speaking

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After every talk that I do there are as many questions about speaking technique as there are about the actual content. One of the most interesting is "How do you stay so calm?". Partly this is just a question of practice, but there are also some specific techniques that make this much easier. Here are three of them, techniques that anyone can master:

Prepare a Backup "Unplugged" Version. Some stress is always caused by the fear that there will be technical problems with the presentation. No matter how many backup copies of the presentation you have and no matter how many tests that you have done before the show the projector can still fail or your laptop suddenly starts to misbehave. One way to avoid this stress altogether is to prepare a backup "unplugged" version that you can do using just a whiteboard, a flipchart or even nothing. You should create a minimal version with the essential content and make a list of the stories you will tell and the visuals…

About that quote: "Ask What Needs to be Done"

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Every mentor at Startup Weekend Stockholm is invited to provide a quote for the Instagram event campaign. For the February 2018 Foodtech event I chose a thought that I had just tweeted when I was asked -- an idea that I have found very useful for solving difficult problems.

Never ask if something can be done; ask instead what needs to be done to make it happen. This apparently simple change of perspective is surprisingly effective because it reframes the question from one about possibility to actually finding solutions. When you ask yourself or other people if something is possible you allow the possibility that it is not. By asking how it could be done you concentrate all your efforts on finding some sort of solution.

Once you have taken away the option of simply walking away from the problem people tend to get much more creative in finding solutions. Perhaps you have to redefine the problem, or perhaps you need to adapt your expectations. But when there is no option to just walk awa…

How To Do Lists Give You Peaceful Nights and Weekends

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Every working week usually ends for me by writing a "to do" list for the work to be done the next week, or at least Monday. I do this partly so that I don't forget the work in progress, or the highest priorities, but it also has the useful side effect of making the weekend more relaxing. This offloading of the work still to be done onto paper or a file appears to lighten the load on your mind, since you know the list is safely written down and you don't need to keep thinking about it.

How you do this mental offloading step doesn't seem to make any difference. At my own desk I tend to use a paper list and when I am travelling I often use an email to myself. Once the list is safely written you can mentally "close the office" for the weekend without being stressed by all the work still to be done. It has always worked for me, though I don't recall seeing any serious research to back it up.

But now there is some experimental evidence that indirectly su…

Speaking: When it's Time to Lose the Slides

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In the business world most presentations are accompanied by Powerpoint or Keynote slides. This is so much taken for granted that the first instinct of many people when they are asked to speak is to put together a slide deck.

Yet there are many cases where it can be more effective to present without slides. This approach has several advantages. First of all it reduces the amount of preparation overhead. Look around the offices of any large business and you will quite often see people spending way too much time on this activity. I have often wondered what would happen if presentation software could log and report hours of activity so that an organization could measure the overall cost of slide preparation.

Better still, not only does it eliminate the time spent making slides, it also gives you more flexibility during the delivery, where you can pivot the presentation more easily in response to previous presentations or inputs from the audience. Perhaps a comment by someone else in the …

Pitching Innovations; When Spoilers Are a Good Thing

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Creators of fiction take great care to avoid leaks, from extra security guards hired to watch over the printing of a much anticipated new book to shooting multiple alternative endings for a TV series so that even the talent doesn't know what happens.

But for entrepreneurs, developers and marketers who are trying to pitch an innovative new product, technology, idea or whatever, this is the worst way to approach a presentation. Perhaps in movies you can spring a complete surprise on someone in a literal elevator pitch, and they decide to greenlight it on the spot. Reality is different. People normally distrust new ideas the first time that they see them, but over time they come to accept and then like the new idea simply by being exposed to it.

There is an important lesson in this idea. If people need time to get used to a new idea before they accept it then the effective influencer takes care to make sure that this happens. Long before you ask someone to decide about your great ne…