Brainstorming Ideas with Sharpies & Sticky Notes

After getting a comment fromĀ Ric Bretschneider of Microsoft's PowerPoint team I came across the book slide:ology on his site Presentations Roundtable. I picked up slide:ology from a bookstore on my way out to New York and it is a great piece of work (and art!) authored by Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design. Duarte Design is the firm behind Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" Keynote slide deck. They are also the designers of John Doerr's TED talk's deck. Duarte Design is truly first class.

Innovating with Sticky Notes

A technique that caught my eye was "Innovating with Sticky Notes" (p28). The premise is to use a sharpie and generate ideas on sticky notes. One idea per sticky note (the bonus of using a sharpie is that is about all you can fit). Just unleash as many ideas as possible and get them up on the wall. Structure and flow can then be orchestrated by rearranging the notes.

Idea Notes for Chord Talk

I decided to give the sticky note method a shot with a talk I'm giving on the Chord Protocol in a graduate class I'm auditing at UNC. I must admit I really liked the technique after trying it out. It's quick and dirty and prevented me from getting lost in details and aesthetics. My focus remained on the big ideas and overall message I wanted to 'teach'. I would even go so far as to say that it's fun. Once I'm done with the talk I'll narrate a slideshow and throw it up on here so you can see the end result.

This sharpie + sticky notes method is only a detail in the grand thesis of Nancy Duarte's slide:ology. Spend some quality time with this book before you prepare your next presentation, you won't regret it.

Aside: if you're going to use this technique on a wall at a coffee shop be prepared for inquisitive looks! :)