How to Recover When You Lose Your Train of Thought

By The Speaking Sherpa

At the 2012 Toastmasters International Convention, I had the great fortune to attend Jock Elliot’s educational session. Jock, the 2011 World Champion of Public Speaking, described his 35 year competitive speaking journey masterfully weaving storytelling and presentation tips.

Perhaps the most interesting insight I gleaned came while watching Jock when he lost his train of thought. There is actually something heartening about the fact that even world champions suffer the occasional memory lapse on stage. When he realized what was happening, Jock paused and said “This next part is so important that I need to read it to you.”

He then calmly strolled back the the lectern to glance at his notes making an intentionally audible “hmmm…. yes…” as he did so. He then took back center stage and continued enthralling his audience.

Although I was very impressed by Jock’s recovery technique, I was on the fence about adopting it for myself. The issue troubling me was whether or not it had crossed the authenticity line. Everyone forgets, but you should strive to recover authentically. Surely, I was not the only one to notice it was a well-rehearsed technique.

We have all seen what not to do when speakers lose their train of thought – “I… ummm… forgot what I was about to say… ummm…” In addition to Jock’s technique, are there other ways to recover?

As fate would have it, my fellow District 53 Toastmasters and I quite randomly shared a cab to Downtown Disney with Matt Abrahams.  Without knowing who Matt was, we invited him to dinner with us. It turns out that Matt was leading an educational session the next day on how to overcome your fear of public speaking. In fact, he wrote the book on the subject – “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out.”

Based on my observation of Jock, my conversation with Matt, and excerpts from Matt’s book, here is how to recover gracefully:

Method 1:  Make It Look Planned

This is what Jock Elliot did by pausing, saying “This next part is so important that I need to read it to you,” consulting his notes, then starting up again. One key lesson here is that you should always have your notes easily accessible.  I keep mine in my pocket as a safety blanket; I rarely need them, but having them there sure makes me feel good.

Method 2: Paraphrase Your Previous Content

From Matt’s book: “You will have to excuse me, but I am so passionate about my topic that I sometimes get ahead of myself.  Allow me to review my previous point.” Nine times out of ten, retracing your steps will help you find the path forward.

Method 3: Ask Your Audience A Thought Provoking Question

Matt’s recommendation is “What seems to be the most important point so far?” I feel that this technique would work better in presentation that is highly interactive to begin with. However you can use this as a rhetorical question to either buy time with a long pause or to precede a review of your previous content (i.e. a lead-in to Method #2).

Method 4: Review Your Overall Speaking Purpose

Every speech should have a central theme – preferably encapsulated in a three to twelve word catchphrase.  Repeating your theme is always welcome by your audience so a memory lapse is a reasonable time to throw it back out there.

Try It Out!

Unfortunately, you are going to experience a memory lapse at some time. In fact, the older you get, the more frequently it is going to happen. However, fear of memory lapses should not prevent you from sharing your ideas with the world.  If Jock Elliot can lose his train of thought, then so can I. Pick one, just one, of these methods and have it in your back pocket the next time you need it.

Audiences Need to Trust You Before They Trust Your Message

By Jim Endicott

PolitiFact.com, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website, is one of several that are prominent in our daily newspapers these days. What I happen to like is the little meter at the top of the column that rates a recent statement from a politician from True (a rating seldom seen) to Pants on Fire.

No matter what your political persuasion, on any given day you’re likely to find some politician skirting the edge of accuracy if not downright misleading the American people with facts and figures.

I’m not sure if we ever really take all the shock-and-awe statistics thrown at us as gospel (unless it happens to be your favorite candidate), but what we’ve unfortunately come to accept is that ”white lies,” statistical slight-of-hand, half-truths and outright deception using data are too often the norm. And people can screw with numbers to make just about any case.

So how do those perceptions rub off on us as presenters? Whether we like it or not, our audiences have been tainted with a general skepticism towards communicated data. Remember when we were encouraged to start a presentation with “an interesting fact or statistic”?  Now research suggests we might be better off finding a new opener.

You see, audiences need to trust you before they trust your message. And statistics don’t automatically equal trust any more. So maybe it’s time to start earning audiences trust the old fashioned way – by building relationships. And that brand of audience engagement always seems to have pieces of these elements: a healthy dose of personal transparency, the ability to communicate shared experiences effectively and a vulnerability that can admit when you don’t have all the answers. That’s refreshing…and compelling.

You see first and foremost, the art of presenting is a relational skill, not a technical one.

And the most riveting and “astounding” statistic won’t do you much good if people resist taking it at face value. There’s a simple truth about human relationships – trust always comes before belief – a lesson politicians of all stripes need to learn, and soon.

About the Author:

Jim Endicott is president of Distinction Communication Inc, a Newberg, OR consulting firm specializing in message development, presentation design and delivery skills coaching. For more information about his firm’s services, visit www.distinction-services.com

How to Look Your Best When Presenting Online

By Denise Graveline

Most of us do our “public speaking” at work in meetings and on conference calls — and these days, the options for visual conferencing are everywhere, from Skype to Google+ hangouts to traditional videoconferencing. If you’re used to telephone conference calls, the rise of the visual call adds another layer of checklist items before the meeting. Prepare yourself with these five resources, tips and ideas to appear your best:

Take it from Skype:  This interview goes right to an expert from Skype for five tips to help you look good on video chat, from sitting up straight to putting the webcam level with your forehead (try this Griffin Technology Elevator Laptop Stand for that purpose). The author tries the tips and shares a before and after photo of her results.

Get a better focus on the person you’re talking to: Not so worried about your face, but that of the person you’re talking to? Botiful can help you keep that other caller’s face in the frame. It’s a small thing, but that might help you look more engaged–and engaging–if you’re not trying to follow a moving target.

Consider HD-friendly makeup: If you do enough work in front of HD cameras for your videoconferencing, webinars or video chat, you may want to explore the new foundations and other makeup products designed to smooth out the flaws made more visible by high-definition cameras.

Get familiar with new platforms: You’ll look and feel more confident if you’ve practiced using different video chat and call platforms. Try ooVoo, a Skype alternative with a good primer here, or OnTheAir, where you can host your own live chat. Don’t forget to try video chat from your mobile phone. You can now start a Google+ Hangout from your Android phone, for example. Ask a colleague to practice with you until you’re both at ease.

Tilt your head forwardThis video (a full 15 minutes’ worth) shows examples from portrait photography, but these tips will work for you on video chats, too. It’s worth practicing, because it will feel awkward at first.

About the Author:

Denise Graveline is a public speaking coach and communications consultant based in Washington, DC, as well as author of The Eloquent Woman blog. She calls her consultancy don’t get caught — as in don’t get caught unprepared, speechless or without a message. She has coached and trained thousands of people — from CEOs, public officials and scientists to newbie public speakers — to give smarter presentations, translate technical topics to reach public audiences effectively or deliver speeches with greater impact.

Executive Presence: Do You Have It?

Executive presence may be hard to define, but most people know it when they see it. Do you have it? If you think it may be lacking, or if you’d like to increase your credibility and confidence, consider the following tips when presenting:

Be Aware That Gestures and Mannerisms Either Support or Sabotage What You Say

Gestures and mannerisms can either convince your audience of your sincerity or antagonize them. Imagine yourself in an airport, with conversations going on all around you, and you yourself engaged in a farewell to a friend. All of a sudden, the man and woman sitting next to you begin to wave their arms dramatically, their fingers urgently punching the air. Immediately, your attention is diverted from your own conversation to this couple.

Why do their words not distract you, but their gestures do? That’s the power of gestures and mannerisms; often, movement speaks louder than words.

You may be completely serious, passionate, and confident about what you have to say, but your audience may perceive you as insincere because of poor eye contact, slouched posture, a bored expression, or weak gestures.

Become Conscious of What Your Body Language Says When You’re in Front of a Group

Your upper-body posture is controlled primarily by what you do with your arms. Your posture and your gestures are difficult to separate. They make a total statement.

I work with many people who are completely unaware of their body language until they see themselves on video for the first time. For example, some people stand with their head intensely protruding forward as if they are about to scold the audience. Others stand in a slouched position as though they are exhausted from marching through the desert for days without rest.

Others hug, pat, and squeeze themselves when they speak. Still others either stand rigid as if locked in a straightjacket or sway back and forth as if they are a shy teenager about to ask their first date to the prom.

Look at yourself in the mirror and see how it feels to stand with your arms relaxed loosely at your side or with your elbows slightly bent. It may feel awkward, but it does not look awkward. Simply stand there, looking in the mirror, and get used to the various postures that both look and feel appropriate so that you do not feel awkward with that same natural posture, gesture, or stance in front of a group.

Add Volume to Increase Authority

In our society, little girls are taught that loud voices are not feminine, whereas little boys learn no such inhibitions. As a result, women often have problems with speaking loudly enough. In today’s business arena, wimpy voices get little attention. Consider the extreme. When someone shouts, everyone turns to look—regardless of what’s being said. Volume gets attention.

Remember that your voice always sounds louder to you than to anyone else. Take another person’s word for it when he or she says you need to speak up. Also remember that your voice is an instrument; it needs to be warmed up, or it will creak and crack at the beginning of your presentation. If you warm up with a high volume, as though projecting to those in the back row, your volume also will improve your vocal quality.

Volume adds energy to your voice; it has the power to command or lose listeners’ attention.

Lower the Pitch to Increase Credibility

Pitch, the measurement of the “highness” or “lowness” of your voice, is determined largely by the amount of tension in the vocal cords. When you are under stress, you may sound high-pitched; when you are relaxed and confident, you will have a naturally lower pitch.

Authoritative vocal tones are low and calm, not high and tense. Inflection is a pitch change—from “Stop!” screeched at an assailant to the haughty “Please stop” directed at a stranger using your department’s copy machine. You can lower your pitch to some degree by practicing scales (as singers do, dropping the voice with each word) and by breathing more deeply to relax your vocal cords.

Remember that a lower pitch conveys power, authority, and confidence, whereas a high pitch conveys insecurity and nervousness.

To sum up: Your personal presence may make the difference in driving home your point—past the ears to the head and heart of those you want to influence.

About the Author:

Excerpted from Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader by Dianna Booher and used courtesy of Booher Consultants, Inc. Dianna Booher works with organizations to increase productivity and effectiveness through better communication: oral, written, interpersonal, and organizational. For more information visit  www.booher.com

How to Use the ‘Remove Background’ Option in PowerPoint

By Geetesh BajajThe Remove Background option is among PowerPoint’s newest and most wonderful abilities. It lets you remove the background from an inserted picture — this can be a great feature if you want to remove a sky, a wall, any backdrop, or something else in a photograph so that the slide background shows through as transparent within the removed parts of the picture.Follow these steps to learn how the Remove Background option works:1. Before you start, we assume you already have a picture inserted on your slide. It helps if the parts of the picture you want to remove are fairly different in color from the rest of the picture, although as you get more proficient with PowerPoint’s Remove Background option, you will be able to work with more complicated compositions.Look at our sample picture, as shown in Figure 1 — you will notice that the color of the flower is distinctly different from the rest of the picture.


Figure 1:
Picture with fairly distinct background and foreground areas2. Select the picture to bring up the Format Picture tab (highlighted in red in Figure 2) of the Ribbon. Activate this contextual tab by clicking on it — locate the Adjust group, and click the Remove Background button (highlighted in blue in Figure 2).

Figure 2:
Remove Background button within Format Picture tab of the RibbonOnce you click the Remove Background button, PowerPoint makes a guess and shows the areas that it ascertains you want to remove (see Figure 3).

Figure 3:
Background area selected by default for removalIn addition, note these changes in the PowerPoint interface:a. You will see a selection box, indicated by the eight handles shown in Figure three. You use these handles to resize the selection box.b. You will also see the Background Removal message window providing you with the instructions for removing the picture background. Of course, you can close it at any time by clicking the Close (x) button on its top left.c. The active slide within the Slides Pane will show a preview of the picture with the background areas removed, as shown highlighted in green in Figure 3. Nothing is removed yet — this is just a preview.


3. You can see that a major portion of the picture has been covered with a pink overlay. This pink overlay indicates the background areas to be removed. Only those areas that still show the original colors of the picture will be retained.At this stage, you need to drag the handles of the selection box to help PowerPoint decide the areas of the picture you want to remove or retain as explained below:a. You can remove more areas by making the selection box smaller. Click on any of the handles and drag inside the picture area — wait for a while for PowerPoint to add more pink areas to your picture.b.You can retain areas by making the selection box larger. Click and drag any of the handles outwards — again wait for a while thereafter for PowerPoint to reduce the pink areas within your picture.Figure 4 shows the picture with the selection box resized to reduce the pink areas. Compare the areas highlighted in pink in Figures 3 and 4.

Figure 4: Pink overlaid areas reduced by enlarging the selection boxFor simple pictures, this is all you need to do. If you are happy with the results, go ahead and click anywhere on the slide outside the picture, or just press the Return key on your keyboard. This will make all pink overlaid background areas of the selected picture transparent, as shown in Figure 5 below.
Figure 5: Picture with background removed

4 . Save your presentation.
If your picture is busy and does not have clearly demarcated areas, then consider exploring our Advanced Remove Background Options tutorial.Tip: The Remove Background works not only with inserted pictures, but also works with any picture that is used as a fill for a shape.

About the Author:
Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (www.indezine.com)  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. He also runs another PowerPoint- related site (http://www.ppted.com) that provides designer PowerPoint templates.
Geetesh also is the author of the best-selling book Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies and three subsequent books on PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and one on PowerPoint 2008 for Mac.

To Demo or Not to Demo in a Pitch Meeting?

By Jan Schultink

If you are in the high tech sector you face the challenge of demonstrating your product in an investor or sales pitch meeting. If that meeting is short (an hour or less), my advice is not to show your product in a live demo, but use a series of carefully planned screen shots.

Murphy’s law says that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. And it seems to apply especially to high tech demos. There are just so many variables that can go wrong: Internet connection, screens, the application itself.

If you are in the middle of a short pitch any interruption will pop the momentum of your story. Ideally you want your pitch to be one focused burst of energy that gets the audience craving for more at the end. A hiccup because of WiFi password will definitely not get you there.

There is another problem with demos:  not all application functionality is interesting. Logging in, creating profiles, entering some data — all things you have to do– are not the elements of technology that will wow your investors or customers. And finally, a live computer screen is usually not readable when put on an overhead projector, because most fonts are probably smaller than 12 points.

So, what to do instead? Prepare an interesting story, set it up beforehand in your application, take lots of screenshots and paste them in the right order in your presentation. Zoom in to those aspects of the screen that are interesting, crop out those window bars, ads or anything that you do not need. Circle what people should be looking at. Put big bold explanation text boxes on the slides.

Now you have a demo that will not go wrong, is high–paced, readable, and shows exactly the things you want the audience to see. Still it might be useful to bring your application along. However, the purpose is not to showcase it in a demo, but rather to point at it and say: “Look here it is, we have product that you can touch.”

If people in the meeting want to find out more, set up second, longer meeting just to play around with the demo — after your 20 minute pitch has been delivered flawlessly. Not everyone in the audience will have an engineering degree, or will be able to understand the ins and outs of your product.

Still you should be able to explain the basic idea behind even the most complicated technology to a reasonably intelligent audience. Telling them “you won’t probably understand” is a huge offense to the audience. And remember, Einstein said that if you cannot explain something to a 6-year-old, you probably do not understand it yourself.

About The Author:

Jan Schultink is a presentation designer with a decade of experience as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company. His company, Idea Transplant, is a presentation design firm that creates conference, sales, and investor presentations.

13 Ways to Communicate Effectively by Telling Good Anecdotes

By Dianna Booher

Stories grab attention the way no other technique can. Your anecdote may be serious, sad, humorous, enlightening, or inspiring. It may serve as proof that a situation exists in your organization, an example of what excellent organizations do to lead the industry, the epitome of innovation, a thought-provoking “war story” from one of your front-line employees, or merely a momentary inspiration.

Even with a serious point, humor generally helps. Your purpose is not to bring down the house with wildly funny stories; the audience does not expect Jay Leno or David Letterman. Humor, however, anchors key points and makes your message memorable.

Slanting your story to your audience—their point of view and their mood—adds to the impact. When done well, a humorous story adds an element of class and distinction. Stories pack power.

Know Your Reason for Using a Story

To illustrate a point, to entertain, or to build common ground with your audience––identifying your purpose will make your selection much easier. You also will understand the length of time you should devote to telling it and the effort that should go into telling it well. Never use a $100 story in a three-minute time slot to make a nickel point.

Set Up the Anecdote in an Intriguing Way

Not: “Let me tell you about a manager in our Miami office.” But: “Managers sometimes exhibit their greatest leadership skills when they make a mistake. This was the case in our Miami office last quarter when . . .”

Choose Relevant, Appropriate Details

It is tempting to talk while you think. Don’t. Either work out your story by talking it aloud until you perfect it, or write the story and then edit out the garbage. Ask yourself with each word, phrase, and sentence: Does it add to the mood? Does it create the scene? Is this detail necessary to move the story forward and make the point? Weed out trivial details that detract or add only length.

Prefer Scene to Narrative

Recreate the movie scene, add the dialogue, and step into the story as a character, if necessary, to breathe life into the telling.

Not this narrative: “I had a terrible experience the last time I visited my doctor’s office. The receptionist was surly and kept scolding me and other patients for “noise” as if we were children. Customer service certainly isn’t what it used to be.”

But this scene: “I’m not one easily persuaded to see a doctor. And I get particularly upset about the lack of customer service in most medical offices. But last fall when my fever reached 103 degrees, I finally stagger into my internist’s office, dehydrated, dizzy, and green from lunch. And the receptionist pushes a clipboard toward me and growls, ‘You’ll need to complete this.’ So I’m sitting there with all the paperwork piled in my lap, scrawling in the blanks: Name, rank, serial number, referring physician, address of hairdresser, IQ. And the clipboard breaks and shoots the spring in the handle across the room into the water cooler with a loud zing.

“Then this lady beside me starts to sneeze and wheeze so loud that it catches the attention of the toddler with measles next to her. So then the toddler starts to screech at his lung’s capacity, ‘Mommy, what’s she doing?’ About this time, the receptionist opens her cubicle window again and says, ‘Could I ask you people to keep down the noise please. There are sick people in here.’”

Ensure that Every Story Has a Beginning, a Middle, and an End

See the scene in the previous tip about the surly receptionist in the medical office. You will notice that although the story is less than 60 seconds long when delivered, it has a definite beginning, middle, and end. Without all three, your listeners feel as though you are leaving something incomplete. Granted, you do not have to complete the entire story at one time. You may move the story along during an entire presentation to make several key points during your presentation.

Perfect Facial Expression, Voice Tone, and Body Language to Be an Essential Part of the Story

In the same way that both content and delivery work together to make your entire presentation either dynamic or distasteful, a story and its delivery work together to create the total impact. A raised eyebrow, a haughty tone, or a shrug of the shoulders can carry—or reverse—your point.

Let the Punch Line Stand on Its Own

If you have to explain the punch line, it does not work. Play with it until it does. Sometimes the substitution of one key word will make the difference between a laugh and blank stare, between an “aaahhh-haaa” and a “huh?” Practice the punch line and the punch word until others understand it. If they do not, delete it rather than explain it.

Don’t Rush the Laugh Lines or the Pregnant Pauses

Standing silent while a group responds takes courage. Such pauses may be the longest of your career. However, if you rush through them, the audience will take their cue from you and assume that you did not want or intend for them to respond audibly. Their non-response then destroys your confidence to try additional stories in the remaining sections of your presentation.

As a result, your delivery gets dryer and dryer. The presentation spirals downward to disappointment.

Remember, the Longer the Story, the Funnier the Punch Line Needs to Be

Attention spans are short. Lengthy stories can lead to big expectations. They end in disappointment with a poorly delivered or less-than-hilarious punch line.

Avoid a Big Buildup That Sets Up Disappointment

Inexperienced speakers warn, “Here comes a joke,” with a lead-in like, “That reminds me of the story about . . .” or “I’ve got a great story that makes a point about X. It’s so funny. You’re not going to believe what this customer really said to me. But I want to tell you about this situation just to illustrate my point about the type of demands our customers are placing on us these days. It’s hilarious. I couldn’t believe he really did this. This guy was really crazy. Just irate. Cursing. Yelling. The whole thing was so ridiculous. Here’s what happened. This customer calls up on our support line and. . . .”

With such a long buildup, the typical group reaction after you tell the anecdote will be, “That wasn’t such a great story. And it wasn’t so funny.” Just get into the story and then make your point. The audience will let you know if it was funny or not.

Perfect Your Timing

One word botched, mumbled, or out of order can sink the ship. Practice your delivery.

Here’s an example from Rich’s Current Humor Newsletter: “Our After Dinner keynoter comes to us from a humble beginning. He started out as an After Snack speaker.”

Another example by Michael Iapoce: “Most of the speakers you’ll hear today constitute a sort of who’s who in the industry. I’m more in the category of who’s he.”

You’ll notice that one word makes or breaks the entire story. You can’t fumble that word or line in your story.

Rework Your Story Until Perfected

Changing a single word, adding one specific detail, or changing a person’s name can be the difference between confusion and clarity, a laugh and a ho-hum, retention and oblivion.

Rehearse Your Stories and One-Liners “Off Broadway”

Before you use an anecdote “live” in a session or presentation, make sure that it works. And the best way to do this is to see how others react as you tell it. Tell it to your family and friends. Tell it at a cocktail party. Tell it at work in the cafeteria. Where do people laugh? At what details do people’s expressions change? Where do their eyes grow larger? Where are they shocked? Amused? Appalled? On the next telling, play up those parts. Create more suspense. Add more dialogue, less narration.

You will generally improve your delivery with each telling. Sometimes people laugh at things you did not think were the funny part—and vice versa. It is better to know this before telling the story “for real” in your presentation to drive home a key point.

About the Author:

Dianna Booher works with organizations to increase productivity and effectiveness through better communication: oral, written, interpersonal, and organizational. Her latest book is Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader. For more information visit  www.booher.com

‘ConOps’ Can Make Complex Concepts Easier to Understand

By Mike Parkinson
Do you need to communicate complex information quickly? Is your presentation hard to follow? Then take a page from the U.S. government (yes, I said U.S. government) and use the ConOps approach.First I want to define ConOps for those readers unfamiliar with the term: Concept of Operations (ConOps) is a presentation or graphic that communicates the characteristics of a proposed solution or system from the stakeholder’s perspective (those who will use the solution or system).

ConOps can be a combination of quantitative and qualitative characteristics, and it shows how a set of capabilities may be employed to achieve desired objectives or an end state. Most ConOps solutions are complex, multidimensional and multivariable.Frequently, ConOps explanations are requested for Government proposal submissions. When done right, the audience quickly understands, at a high level, what the solution is and how the pieces work together.

Follow these three steps to clearly explain your ConOps in a way that will help your presentation succeed where others fail.


Step 1:
SimplifyWhy? Because your audience is not an expert with your information. Explain it in a way that the reader understands. Your presentation wasn’t created for you and your team to read; it’s intended for your audience.

Do not include content, acronyms and abbreviations that may confuse your audience. Keep it simple and clearly identify any benefits, outcomes and discriminators (things that set your solution apart from your competition).


Step 2:
Use a compelling graphicWhy? Because good graphics are easier to understand and remember than text alone. Additionally, graphics uncover omitted parts. For example, missing a step in a process is obvious when shown in a process diagram but might be overlooked on a bulleted list.

ConOps graphics are often a combination of multiple graphic types. The audience, content and message drive graphic type selection; however, most ConOps graphics fall into three graphic categories (see more samples at GetMyGraphic.com):
1. Graphic types that show how parts relate to the whole process or system.Use this approach as a roadmap throughout your document. Highlight each element and explain each in greater detail at the beginning of relevant sections throughout your document (see the temple graphic below). The following are two examples of graphics that show parts relating to a whole:

  


2. Graphic types that literally show the system in use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These graphics use photographs, drawings, schematics, floor plans, models and other visuals that remain true to reality to depict your ConOps. The following two examples illustrate how each system functions in a real-world scenario:

  


3
. Graphic types that show process.Show how your system combines data, structures workflow, allows for continual improvement, manages risk or offers a unique process flow using these graphic types. The following graphics illustrate the process through which the final outcome is reached:

Add other graphic types with your ConOps graphic as needed. For example, consider gauge graphics to show quantitative data (below):

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Validate your solution

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why? Because subject matter experts often miss or miscommunicate part of a solution due to over familiarity. Ask someone who is similar to your target audience to review and explain your ConOps graphic to you. Do they understand it well enough to articulate the presented solution? If so, you are on the right path. If not, use their feedback to improve your ConOps graphic.

The next time you need to share complex information, consider a ConOps approach and use these three steps to more clearly explain your solution.

About the Author:

Mike Parkinson is an internationally-recognized visual communication expert, trainer and multi-published author. Visit Billion Dollar Graphics (http://www.BillionDollarGraphics.com) and Get My Graphic (http://www.GetMyGraphic.com) for helpful presentation tools. Mike also is a partner at 24 Hour Company (http://www.24hrco.com), a premier proposal and presentation graphics firm.

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