In a recent presentation skills course,* participants were coached to address individual audience members one sentence at a time. Here’s the gist of the technique: Your interaction with the audience will be a verbal paragraph, so as you speak, look at someone, speak one whole sentence, look to the next, speak the next sentence, look again, and complete the thought. Bonus points if you can complete the thought with the same audience member you started with.
“Um,” “And,” and “So” crutches disappeared from speech patterns. Credibility and authority suddenly appeared. Voices were lower and steady. The presenters had, well, time to think on their feet. One sentence at a time.
My penmanship has become atrocious through the years, especially when capturing ideas in customer discovery sessions. I’ve been writing this off as some kind of mystical kinetic absorption of content- if my hand is moving, the ideas are somehow seeping into my brain and I’ll retain it better.
Balderdash. When I look at my notes, I can’t read them and no, I can’t recall the details.
This week, I’ve applied the one sentence at a time principle to my note taking on calls, forcibly slowing my hand down and putting legible words to paper. The magic works here as well. My understanding was insightful and my conversations suddenly carried more weight and credibility. There was no rush, just measured confidence in making my points and pursuing the next topic.
One sentence at a time.