Crafting Your Message - The "IT" Method

The IT Method is an exercise to help you develop the content of your presentation.

The IT Method is a five-step process:

1. Brain IT!
2. Group IT!
3. Trim IT!
4. Spice IT!
5. Do IT!
Brain IT!
This is your chance to brainstorm – capturing ideas, concepts and information. Brainstorming is a method for developing creative solutions to problems. Your goal is to think freely, putting everything that you may want to say down on paper. You can brainstorm on your own, but often a small group brainstorming together can really augment this creative process.

Sticky notes give the creative process great fertility. You can brainstorm more freely when not hampered by a linear outline or a sequentially generated form.

With your topic identified and sticky notes in hand, capture
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Write down everything and anything that relates to your subject, flavored by the particular audience you will be presenting to. Don't be concerned about relating all of your ideas or whether you even plan to use all of the generated ideas. Just capture the ideas – one per sticky note! Collect the ideas and stick ALL of them on a flip chart.

Keep your left brain (your internal editor) out of this brainstorming process. This activity is strictly a right-brain function – pure free-association idea generation.

TIP: Brainstorming works best when a time limit is established.

Group IT!
Now, mentally step back from this field of yellow sticky notes and do what you would naturally do – put the notes in groups!

Group your notes according to the natural associations you see in the material. Do not force every idea into a category – some will be left over.

TIP: If you find that a category has more than 10 notes, consider whether it should really be more than one category!

After you group the sticky notes, give each group a name or title.

Next, ask yourself the question, "Which of these groups do I want this particular audience to hear about first, second, third," and so on. Try to keep the number of groups relatively small.

Many people believe that three is the ideal number of points around which to organize your presentation. This is not an absolute! Just try to keep it simple.

Save the unused groups. They may provide input for other parts of the presentation. These groups also can provide a source for the question-and-answer period of the presentation and may be used in future presentations on the same subject to other audiences.

Trim IT!
Now, simplify your notes: trim the ideas within each group and put them into a logical order. Remember, even though many experts believe three is the ideal number, you are not bound to it.

Go back to your presentation strategy and review your position, desired actions and listener benefits. Make sure you define these items in your presentation.

Usually, the desired actions and listener benefits should be stated in the introduction and restated in the conclusion.

Spice IT!
You are now ready to add spice to your presentation framework! The purpose of spice is to add memorability, aid retention and otherwise enliven your presentation.

Spice it all! Don't forget to spice the beginning and ending – remember that the opening and the closing are the most important items in the presentation.

Identify where the peaks of the presentation are, and what type of spice could be added to the presentation. These are the contents of your spice cupboard:

Stories   Handouts
Quotes   Audio
Facts   Video
Props   Slides

Do IT!
Now that all of the planning work has been done, the presenter must write, write, write and edit, edit, edit before developing the visuals to accompany the presentation.

“The IT Method" is a written excerpt from Presenters University's Power of Wow! seminar on improving your presentation skills.

Article reprinted with permission from

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