The "Scatterbrain's System," will help you harness your random thoughts in order to create cohesive, compelling content for public speeches, articles and books.
Despite my love-affair with computers, I find that using a 3-ring binder system makes it possible for me to perform under this much pressure, while maximizing my poise and flexibility. This system has worked well for me and countless others for years, as it equips us to move our thoughts from private to public in a fairly painless process.
The Master Notebook
Step 1: Create a Master Notebook using a 3 ring binder, Post-It notes, blank pages and divider tabs.
Step 2: At the top of each page, indicate the category, topic, or type of content for which that page exists. Some of my categories are: stories, illustrations, demonstrations and quotations. My topics include: leadership, customer service and speaker training. Your category types will reflect your special area of interest and expertise.
Step 3: Write each individual memory-trigger onto its own 3x3" Post It note. Use as few words as possible to help you remember the story or concept in question. For quotations, include the entire quote and its source.
Step 4: Place each Post It note onto any piece of paper. At the top, write a title or heading to help you remember what type of note that page contains.
Step 5: Continue adding notes to new or existing pages. When you have six notes on one page, flip it over and copy the title or heading on the back of the page, then continue to add notes at will. At this point, you may wonder why you can't just jot notes onto the papers themselves. I have actually done this, but later had to cut the pages apart, and then was stuck with odd shaped clips that did not lend themselves to easy organization.
Step 6: Create divisions in your notebook, using tabs, for each major category.
Step 7: Create unique pages for each major topic or category within the appropriate section. From Step 6, one of my major categories is "Words." A page within that division is entitled, "Fear". On that page, one of the Post Its says, "Fear-based decisions often lead to failure," while another discusses its antonym reading, "Peace = calm in the midst of a storm."
Step 8: Create spreadsheets to manage and cross-reference large quantities of data within any particular category. For example, my notebook contains a database include my most-frequently sited Bible verses. Each verse has its own Post It, which appears in the correct section of the notebook, but I also have an "index" for quick reference. The list has three columns: 1) the reference, 2) the general topic or key words, and 3) the section of my notebook in which the Post It is filed. I print this out in three versions: 1) sorted by reference, 2) sorted in alpha order by key word and 3) sorted by notebook section.
Step 9: Assembly. When you are ready to write an article, speech or full-length manuscript, you basically put together a jig-saw puzzle, looking at one Post-It at a time, trying to match possibilities with needs.
Next time you need to write a blog post, article or speech, identify your topic parameters, then proceed to develop a list of options followed by a final outline.
A. Lay out several sheets of blank paper.
B. Flip through the category pages for ANYTHING that relates directly to the topic or goal outcomes.
C. Pull each potential post-it note from its page in your notebook to one of the blank pages you have laid out.
D. Once the options are clearly displayed, organize them into "points."
E. Replace the non-essential notes back to their original notebook pages.
E. Upon completing the process, and feeling satisfied with the content and order of presentation, place each page (with its 6 post-it memory-joggers) into a clear protector sheet and you are ready to write or practice your speech.
Step 10: After your project is complete, return each post-it to its proper location so you'll be ready next time.
If you gave a speech, have the recording transcribed. Highlight the key and sub-points. Reduce the speech to a one-sheet and keep that in your notebook in a final section. Note: All of my books contain content from previously-given speeches
The beauty of this system is that it allows you to share the quotes, stories, illustrations and life-lessons that have powerfully impacted your own life, in a surprisingly short amount of time.
You do not need to "figure it all out" first, but rather simply live your life, jotting notes as you go along, until you understand what to do next.
Marnie Swedberg is a speaker trainer and mentor to leaders. She has written nine books/ebooks and hundreds of articles for newspapers, newsletters and websites on a wide variety of topics and is frequently in print and on television and radio talk shows. Currently a pinch hit speaker, Marnie has done presentations for large corporations, non-profit groups, plus programs for most denominations. Access all of Marnie's resources and training segments here: http://www.marnie.com