• Scott Stiefvater

Prepping for a Talk? Take a hike. Literally.

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

Most professionals put themselves in a less than ideal environment for generating creative and compelling content for their presentations. They sit in front of a computer screen in their slide software typing words and assembling slides. With their awareness confined to the screen and slide sequence, their minds produce the same predictable stuff audiences have come to expect from a flat and forgettable presentation.

The next time you have a presentation for which you need to generate some content, open your mind by going to a park or open space to take a walk for an hour or two.

Prepare for a productive content-creating session.

Before you go, write out the following on an index card:

  • Your GOAL for your listeners. Complete the sentence, "By the end of this talk, my listeners will..." specifying what you what them to believe and to do after your talk.

  • Your CORE MESSAGE. In one "If...then..." sentence, express your main idea. For example, "If we space out our customer satisfaction surveys, we'll have the time to implement improvements before we collect more data."

  • Optionally, a few one-sentence KEY MESSAGES to support the core message.

Talk to yourself.

With your index card in your pocket for reference, launch out. Once you're under way, talk to yourself (you can do this at a quiet whisper so that other hikers don't think you are crazy). Take a single key message and talk through that idea over and over again. Experiment with words and metaphors. DO NOT attempt to create a script in your head. Instead of searching for the perfect words, search for the perfect ideas to convey your message. Let the words change and evolve as you repeat the idea.

Get out of your head and into nature.

As you wander, let your mind wander from time to time by observing things around you. Stop and take in the view. It's in the little moments between being in your head observing your surroundings that you will often find inspiration.


© 2021 by Scott Stiefvater,

(anti) Presentation Coach


Tel: 925-586-3517

San Francisco Bay Area


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