According to Atul Gawande, surgeon at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, the lowly checklist has been a critical tool in flying airplanes, building skyscrapers and reducing deadly infections in hospitals.
Surely then, couldn't it be useful to help us be better prepared and organized for our presentations?
Many fine speakers have been tripped up because they didn't pay enough attention to the logistical details of a presentation. This lack of oganization can take many forms:
- forgetting to bring the most current version of the slides
- neglecting to have a backup copy of the presentation on a USB drive and then finding your computer doesn't work with the room's equipment
- running late for the presentation and not having the host's contact information
- having the room set up differently than you expected
And while none of these are earth-shattering problems, they can easily put you off your game, negatively affect your confidence and prevent you from giving your best to the audience.
Enter the checklist -- the perfect way to keep all the moving parts surrounding a presentation organized in one place. Now some of you right brained, creative folks may balk at the structure of a checklist. But when it comes to the details surrounding your presentation, structure is exactly what you need to keep logistical landmines from derailing you.
My colleague, John Zimmer, over at the Manner of Speaking blog has created a great checklist template that is available to download as a PDF. It could be easily modified or enhanced to include other aspects of preparation besides logistics: research, audience needs analysis, an approval process, rehearsal schedule.
Try out a check list for your next presentation and you'll be joining the ranks of pilots, architects and doctors who swear by them.
flickr/mag3737 C.C. 2.0