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Brainstorming Techniques for the Dazed Presenter

October 6, 2014 / Blog, Presentation Science, Rick Enrico Blog, Tips & Tricks brainstorming, presentation tips, presentation writing

Presentations are enormous and often difficult tasks. Whether you’re set to pitch investors or address potential clients, you’ll feel plenty of pressure to ace your performance. The pressure can be even more debilitating when you realize that the road to success requires plenty of steps. Writing the perfect speech and content involve several factors. Aside from that, there’s also the challenge of designing a PowerPoint presentation that’s both effective and engaging.

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First coined by Madison Avenue advertising executive Alex Osborn, brainstorming has been defined as a “relaxed and informal approach to problem-solving.” You lead with your topic and try to generate several different ideas that build off of each other. During the process, you can list down the craziest and most impossible solutions. The only goal is to sort through everything in order to pick out the best ideas.

Here are a few brainstorming techniques you can try to jump start your presentation prep:


In a quiet space, write down as much as you can in 9 minutes. Don’t stop until the time is up. Just let your pen run through the page. Keep writing down your thoughts, even when you feel like they’re pretty unsubstantial. When the time is up, read back on everything you’ve written. Pick out the ideas that stand out and try the next three techniques to arrive at a more specific message.


Pare down your ideas by considering your subject from a variety of different perspectives. Just as a cube has 6 sides, you can approach the subject of your presentation using 6 methods. Take a sheet of paper and try to answer the following points:

  • Describe peculiarities of the topic
  • Compare it with a related idea
  • Associate it with something else
  • Analyze the components closely
  • Apply it for a particular situation
  • Argue for and against it

Desired outcome

Another way to sort through ideas is by understanding the goals you want to achieve. In other words, try to figure out your main purpose. Why were you asked to deliver the presentation? What do you want to accomplish? What is the outcome you’re hoping for?

Audience perspective

You can also narrow down your list by keeping the audience in mind. Consider their point of view, and what they might feel about your presentation. In particular, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are in your audience?
  • Why are they coming to hear you speak?
  • What do you want them to do?
  • How might they disagree with your ideas?

If you’re in this situation, it’s not strange to feel a bit dazed and confused. There’s so much to consider and it can be hard to get started. The only way to know where to start is by figuring out which direction to take. You’ll need to know the message you want to deliver, and the ideas that you want the audience to take away. This is where brainstorming comes in.

Organize your thoughts to arrive at a clear and definite direction for your presentation. Try these brainstorming techniques to find the exact message you want to share and deliver.

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Brainstorming: Generating Many Radical, Creative Ideas.” Mind Tools. Accessed October 6, 2014.


Featured Image: Carl Milner via Flickr