No more!

gloved hand held up in "stop" motion

I’ve been giving little talks for long enough that a part of me insists I should have some kind of system down.

One that not only has me starting earlier and working more methodically, but that provides some sort of framework and steps for proceeding; some kind of handy-dandy, E-Z-1-2-3!â„¢ process for getting talks out of my head and onto paper before they come back out of my  head.

Alas, there is no system yet. While I marvel at my friend Cliff Atkinson’s excellent “Hollywood screenplay” framework for content creation (which I’m currently re-reading about in his wonderful book, Beyond Bullet Points, for inspiration), using bits and pieces of it as well as Nancy Duarte’s and Garr Reynolds’ brainstorming techniques from slide:ology and Presentation Zen, respectively, something obstinate in me refuses to budge from my old, familiar pace ‘n’ blather method. Sorry about that, neighbors; sorrier than you know.

However, one massively helpful thing I have begun doing is admitting that this spazzy and backwards way of working is, for better or worse, currently my default way. Out loud. Or rather, out loud on my calendar. At some point last year, in a fit of pique, no doubt, I added an all-day event to my gCal “work pods” calendar titled “NO MORE!” In caps, so I couldn’t miss it. In burnt orange, just in case.

Now, when I have something big coming up, like my very first TEDx talk, up in Tacoma, this Saturday, I stick a bunch of burnt-orange “NO MORE!” jellybeans on the days leading up to it. Instantly, those days are shut off, devoted solely to whatever is already on there or whatever big thing I have coming up. I have even learned to stick the burnt-orange “NO MORE!” jellybeans on the other side of the big event, for recovery time.

Because sometimes, the best way to keep going is knowing when to stop…


Image by kasrak via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Hey! Disclosure! Links to the books in the post above are Amazon affiliate links. This means if you click on them and buy something, I receive an affiliate commission. Which I hope you do: it helps keep me in books to review. More on this disclosure stuff at publisher Michael Hyatt’s excellent blog, from whence I lifted (and smooshed around a little) this boilerplate text.


  1. Yeah, if you break it down below large blocks of saved time, it’s sometimes counterproductive. And I’m in awe too, but I already was:).

  2. Thanks, guys. I’m excited, too—I get excited when I get to talk ANYWHERE, including my apartment—but this is a TEDx, not the big-daddy TED. Just to be clear!

    1. Thanks for that link, Daphne. (I turned it into a regular linky-link, since that URL was pretty long and ganky-looking.)

      I really like Tim’s methodology, which is eerily similar to my own, as it turns out. I was talking to an old friend about the talk this week, and how I was so nervous/etc., at which she just said, “Well, you’ve ALWAYS loved making yourself nervous.” Which is true. I guess I am my own Diet Coke. (Which is good, b/c I can’t drink it anymore!)

  3. Yeah, I’m not sure I’d endorse the Diet Coke part :-) but his structure looks really solid. And some nervousness is good, you know. If you’re not nervous enough, you’ll risk being boring, right?? Thanks for fixing the link. It was crazy long….

  4. Hi Colleen:

    Wow, its awesome you’re going to speak at TEDx Tacoma…I know I’ve joked with friends that someday I’ll give a TED talk, but its cool beans to see that you are doing it!! I attended the TEDx Chicago event a few months back and it was great…as far as I know all the videos are available online, btw. I know you’ll do a great job because I really enjoyed your talk at Pam Slim’s EFCN event in Chicago.

    As far as preparing a presentation…I’m a member of Toastmasters and have heard so many people give advice as to how to write a speech. Some say you should write it word for word….which I could NEVER do. I write my speech much like I used to rehearse a sketch comedy show. I start with “beats” (an outline) and then fill in all the details. I say try different methods, but don’t feel like you have to do it a certain way. Good luck!!

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