Client from Wikimedia Organizaiton

Client from Wikimedia Organizaiton


by Dyane Neiman

Getting down on the floor & other creative tips

Recently my German client gave a keynote in front of 2,000 people. She was very anxious to speak in public, in English at such a high-stake international event. We worked together to create a clear message, an effective structure and a powerful delivery. The result: she had to stop twice because of applause!

And before that success, we had to go through the creative process and it looked like this:

First step: Open up computer notebook, click on Power Point (or any other presentation software) and type whatever comes to mind on lots of slides.

Second step: Begin to write detailed sentences in tiny-size fonts in the note section below each slide.

Third step: Realization that you have a lot of words, but you are saying nothing.

Sound familiar to you?

Lydia has a distinct feeling that the presentation lacks focus and impact. She feels trapped in her thoughts and needs momentum to get beyond this creation phase, which is looking painful, when I walked into her office.

In a collaborative process, Lydia and I generate new ideas. With each new idea, Lydia goes back to her slide presentation and tries to fit the new idea into the old slide title. I'll repeat:

Squeeze big, bold, beautiful ideas into the old, dusty form.

I was getting so physically and mentally cramped sitting next to Lydia, who actually is a really nice woman when she is not squeezing new things into old shapes. I finally said, STOP! please. :-)
In my most charming voice, I asked Lydia to shut her computer notebook. ahhhh,


We are sitting in a large open space without any other chairs or tables. The sun is pouring into the room. A nice fresh breeze is coming through the open window. The room has great creative energy, it is free from distractions and spacious. I grab a flip chart sheet and a thick black marker: this will be our presentation canvas. Now we have a place to spill all of our ideas on. We can freely move our bodies in the room and around, over, and side to side of our canvas.

By leaving the digital world that was unconsciously constraining our creative spirit, we were back in analog mode and it felt so free.

Before you do public speaking you need to do private thinking. Alone. On the floor. Under the shower. During a morning jog. Our creative ideas come at unexpected moments. Close your computer. Leave the office. And let it happen.
PS. Bring a journal and pen to write down the ideas when the appear.