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22 Aug

Five rigorous paperclips helped me memorize


Datum: 2010-08-22 22:06

Last Tues­day, it was time for me to give my first Pecha Kucha-talk.

It was incred­i­bly fun and an expe­ri­ence that I tru­ly can rec­om­mend each and everyone.

If you have an idea that the world should know about, find the next Pecha Kucha event near you and apply to give a talk.

In this blog­post, I would like to share with you how I pre­pared for this bap­tism of fire”. Maybe my method could be help­ful to you in some situation.

Twen­ty slides, twen­ty branches

Since a Pecha Kucha-pre­sen­ta­tion has a very strict for­mat (20 slides, 20 sec­onds each), this enticed me to build my talk in a sim­i­lar­ly struc­tured way.

After I had decid­ed upon what mes­sage I would like to deliv­er (why I love struc­ture, i.e. because it gives me an oppor­tu­ni­ty to feel free and more calm), I sketched my script in a mindmap in Mind­man­ag­er.

I cre­at­ed a map with twen­ty branch­es — one for each slide — and bit by bit I let my script take shape there. I added some phras­es here, some there, and test­ed to talk it through, in order to secure the flow. Since every slide is shown in exact­ly 20 sec­onds (nei­ther more nor less), I had to move words around quite a lot so that every slide had a suit­able amount of words.

In the end, when I was con­tent, the result looked like this.

Next, I picked out 20 slides that accom­pa­nied and illus­trat­ed my message.

OK. Then, the con­tent was all there. Now, I just had to mem­o­rize it.

Five rig­or­ous paperclips

I used a method that I learned from a musi­cian col­league of mine, a blessed trum­pet play­er. He used it when he was about to per­fect dif­fi­cult solo melodies and phras­es. The method is strict, fair and inex­orably effective.

I opened the slideshow on my Mac and put five paper­clips to the right of my com­put­er on my desk. I divid­ed the twen­ty slides into five seg­ments and decid­ed to mem­o­rize one seg­ment at a time.

I imag­ined that I was just about to give my talk pub­licly, start­ed the slideshow (with auto­mat­ic slide change every 20 sec­onds) and began speaking.

To make the exer­cise as life­like as pos­si­ble, I stood up, used a hand­held micro­phone and lead the sound through Garage­Band with a slight reverb in the monitor.

Each time I man­age to talk through the seg­ment with­out errors, I moved a paper­clip from the right to the left of the com­put­er. If I fal­tered more than suit­ably or if I for­got what to say, I moved all paper­clips from the left back to the right again. Not until I had been able to move all five paper­clips to the left, i.e. man­aged to talk through the seg­ment with­out errors five times in a row, I pro­ceed­ed to the next segment.

When I had man­aged to learn all five seg­ments, I start­ed all over again, but this time with the com­plete talk in the pool. Not until I could give the talk flaw­less­ly five times in a row, I con­sid­ered myself done.

This method left me want­i­ng more. Of course, it was not very enjoy­able to have to move the four paper­clips from left to right just because I failed the fifth and last time in a row, but on the oth­er hand, I man­aged to mem­o­rize my talk.

How I man­aged on the big night? See for yourself:

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