Do you have a fear of missing out something critical from your presentation? This concern can sabotage your presentation in three ways:

  1. To alleviate your concern you put everything you want to say on your slides
  2. You write a script and read from it.
  3. You spend the whole presentation worrying instead of connecting with your audience.

There’s a simple way of dealing with this:

Have only one thing that is really important to say.

And then make it impossible for you to forget to say it.

The one thing that is really important for you to say is called the key message of your presentation. It makes life easier for you because you know there’s only one thing you absolutely have to say and so you’re less concerned about forgetting to say other things. It’s also useful for the audience because there’s only one thing they have to grasp and remember and it provides focus for the presentation.

For help with crafting your key message, see this post: How to craft a memorable key message in 10 minutes.

How to make it impossible not to say it

1. Plan to say your key message several times

Plan to say your key message near the beginning of the presentation, refer back to it in your presentation, and say it at the end. Then if you skip over it by mistake at one point, you’ll be saying it elsewhere, so it won’t matter.

That repetition is also useful for your audience.

2. Put the key message on a slide

Yes, it’s OK to have some words on a slide. And if it’s one of the few slides with words on in your presentation, then it will help people in your audience to remember the words. And if you forget to say your key message, it’s on the slide. So it’s helpful both for you and your audience.

BIG WARNING: This is not an excuse to put everything you want to say on a slide. If you put everything you want to say on a slide, nothing stands out. It no longer works.

What about the rest of your presentation

So yes, there is more to your presentation than the key message. But everything else that you want to say is “nice-to-say” rather than “must-say”. Here are some tips to help you remember what you want to say:

1. Use notes

Notes help you remember what you want to say. If you’re concerned about missing something out, it makes sense to have some notes to keep you on track. I see no shame in having notes. If you have a mind blank, notes are the safety net that can get you started again. For help with constructing your notes see this post: The lost art of notes.

2. Rehearse

Rehearsal is always useful. Rehearse the transitions between your points. This is because you tend to miss something out when you’ve just finished a point and are struggling to think about what comes next.

3. Have a handout

You can let go of worrying about missing something out by having a handout or website to refer people to. If you forget to cover it they can look it up.

Now you can focus on connecting with your audience, rather than be constantly worrying about missing something out.

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